The oath, the hammer and the throne [Archives:2006/986/Viewpoint]

October 2 2006

This title might sound like a famous legend, yet it is just a personal narration of a very important hour in Yemen's political history.

On the 27th of this month, Wednesday at one in the afternoon, to be precise, journalists gathered at the Ministry of Information to attend the swearing-in of the old/new president of Yemen.

Among high security measures, we were transported and admitted into the parliamentary building and seated at the balcony. A view from which, all the commotion and excitement beneath could be felt vividly. Shortly, the most powerful man in the country will take the presidential oath inaugurating another 7 or 5 years presidential term.

Ministers, ambassadors, military and civil officials sat along with MPs and members of Al-Showra council awaiting the arrival of Saleh. He is a man with a lot of charisma, as he entered, everyone stood up and clapping and acknowledging the grandeur. He smiled briefly and saluted the audience before taking his place at the podium. He did not require the least of gesturers to direct him where to sit, smoothly he eased himself into the most prominent seat, the speaker of the parliament's chair at center stage.

Starting the ceremony with the national anthem, everyone stood up again and shortly a member of the parliament's administrative body took the microphone and launched on a 15 minutes praise of the man, the achievements and the moment. President Saleh was partially listening to the familiar words, when he started fidgeting with the speaker of parliament's hammer while scanning the attendees. I wonder what was going on his mind that made him repeatedly slap the hammer on his palm while reviewing the people's faces who's starring eyeballs followed the swings of the hammer. Was it a message to be sent at the start of a new era, I hope not.

Soon enough President Saleh was called to take the oath. There he stood casually and read the words he spoke at least twice before, “I will materialize the will of the people, respect the constitution and the law I promise to adhere to the principle of peaceful transition of power.” In less than two minutes, what we all came for was over. But then he took another 5 minutes to tell us more. With one hand in his pocket, he stood there telling us how he will make sure the new term will be full of development and achievements. “We will provide jobs, eradicate poverty, fight terrorism and encourage investmen,” Saleh spoke, and clapping followed after almost every sentence with everyone listening to their dreams been woven from promises. Eventually we all stood up again to the national anthem and then the ceremony was over. We saw him exiting while waving to the still standing crowd and nodding his head to familiar faces, and we thought to ourselves, there goes our ruler.