SILVER LININGThe Post-Donors Conference challenges [Archives:2006/1008/Opinion]

December 18 2006

It is really good that the donors promised to channel some funds for development projects in the coming five years. But this money from the donors will not solve all our headaches. It is us who should do that.

Good infrastructure, law and order enforcement and security are necessary elements that will provide a good environment for investment and consequently help revive the already fragile economy of the country. Working towards this end is the responsibility of everybody in Yemen; both the government and the opposition should realize this goal when they play the game of politics and tricks and when they get serious about the future of the country.

The ruling GPC should seize this chance to make something concrete so the country can get more support in the coming years to enable us to build a good capacity that could bring more foreign investment.

The minister of planning and international cooperation, Abdulkareem Al-Arhabi, was right when he said that the challenge that faces Yemen is making a clear mechanism in which these projects will be implemented and ensuring funds are spent differently from the previous times. This goal is good and heralds a good omen that things will start moving on the right track.

Yemen needs serious reforms and serious steps in this direction otherwise the money given by donors will not do anything even if it amounts to $100 billion unless we have good and competent administration that makes the best of the resources available and the funds of the donors. In this way we will be able to overcome our ordeals.

Yemen of course has a lot of challenges ahead to fulfill its commitments towards the donors, including administrative, crack down on corruption. However, such steps need a lot of courage and who will fight who is the main question; it is a big challenge. It is really challenging for a political regime to fight against long standing corruption.

Will President Saleh actually confront his cronies who are now rooted in his system? Real reform should start with the influential peeople who abuse their power for their own personal interests.

Yemen also needs to have a strong security system that reflects the power and modernity of the state; this cannot be in the form of deploying soldiers into the streets to also blackmail the people with security check points. We need to feel secure with the people in charge of our security. Sometimes when I drive and see a police car behind I feel insecure as it comes to my mind that it might create a problem by blackmailing me. We need to feel safe leaving our cars outside our homes without any worry. We need to feel that if we go to court that our case is dealt with quickly and without curses of nepotism, favoritism or bribes.

We need to feel secure that no influential figures will loot your land by force. We need to see that human rights and press freedoms are respected and the government will not resort to gang behavior to settle its accounts with critical journalists or human rights activists or freedom fighters. There needs to be an end to the bureaucracy in government offices where we see deals that give you headaches and we need to see transparency, accountability and equal citizenship.

These are the most important elements on the basis the donors will assess the type of governance our government is undertaking.

Certainly, enforcing reforms in all these fronts is the great challenge Yemen has to face to avoid an entire system collapse and aspire for a better tomorrow.

Good job for Journalism

I would like to congratulate my colleague Nadia al-Saqqaf, editor in chief of the Yemen Times for wining the 2006 Gebran Tuenii Award.

Such an award like that which was awarded to Jamal Amer from the Committee to Protect Journalist is really a concrete appreciation for the good work Yemeni journalism is doing, despite the hassles and intimidation some journalists face.

Mohammed Al-Qadhi ([email protected]) is a Yemeni journalist and columnist.