The presidency requires popular legitimacy (Part 2) [Archives:2006/959/Opinion]

June 29 2006

Abdurrahim Muhsin
Third, the JMP, finding out about SCER's resolution to distribute a quota in ballot due to be made on Sep 9 from Al-Thawra newspaper, knows well that the presidential elections will be forged. Nevertheless, the JMP must be true to its political reform program to effect a restoration in the trust of the electorate, especially the elite of the political opposition and the educated.

Following the parliamentary elections of 2003, the JMP correctly decided not to participate in the upcoming elections under the existing administration, particularly in its first phase. It decided to clear up all outstanding issues before the elections, which should be of a free and impartial nature guaranteed by international monitors.

The SCER is under the impression that it remains legitimate, particularly when President Saleh declared it to be off limits to any criticism; such criticism would lead to death. Further, the committee hastened to hold an extraordinary meeting with the GPC and its followers on June 6, coming up with a resolution that states the distribution of the quota for the committees administering the electoral process with be 60 percent for the GPC and 40 percent for the JMP. Another proposal suggested by Saddam Hussain's representative states the division as follows: 33 percent for the GPC; 33 percent for the JMP; and 33 percent for President Saleh. Yet this proposal was not considered. The meeting witnessed the absence of JMP, thus indicating that the resolution concerns only the ruling party and its invalid committee.

Fourth, the JMP has many cards yet to play that can be reasonably used, including that of the voters whose right of changing the ruler has been abrogated by the ruling party. September 9, will be the day of reckoning. There is still enough time for the major parties to prepare voters to have the last, decisive word. Such electoral action would undermine the legitimacy of power in Yemen that has been built upon conspiracy and deceit.

The decisive word should take the form of a sit-in on Sep 9 with a resolution being declared 15 days before voting day. The right to hold peaceful sit-ins is ensured by international legitimacy as an expression of civil disobedience against any regime.

Fifth, calls for dialogue by President Saleh are no longer important, as they are mere ploys to gain time. Furthermore, Yemeni dialogues, as evidenced by the last one, indicate the lack of goodwill on the part of the GPC and its fragile commitment towards the recommendations of these meetings and dialogues.

For example, the dialogue on the role of the SCER in September 2005 was a great failure on the ruling party's part as President Saleh made it an out-of-bounds topic. Thus, the SCER has been made a tenet of the firm tenets leading the fate of the ruling party to that of similar regimes in Indonesia under Suharto, the Congo under Sassou, or Liberia under Charles Tyler. Military regimes tend to use violence to achieve its ends and it usually cannot reach compromise through dialogue. Instead it uses dialogue only when it needs to win time and look for another means of attack.

Sixth, donor organizations (the UNDP and the Washington DC-based National Democratic Institute) have warned the SCER that they may halt their financial support for the upcoming elections if the SCER insists on committing violations and excluding the JMP. Donor organizations are serious about their threat as they have observed forgeries in the supplementary elections in Rayma and Dhamar and during the registration phase.

The aforementioned threat is of interest to the JMP and it should cling to it, providing it with further support to be realized, including commitment to it during all upcoming meetings of the JMP leadership with regards to political reforms, the SCER, and registration. It is noteworthy that the above-mentioned organizations as well as the European Union are the main players in the Yemeni electoral and political process. Their collective role will increase when democracy grows deeper within the JMP formations and further within civil society.

Seventh, usurping the executive branch for any longer will be constitutionally unfounded as it lacks the cover of popular legitimacy. Such an outcome will lead to the deterioration of freedoms and rights, and the spread of chaos. It will also increase the number of the regime's opponents. The civil service and the ministries concerned with defense will send off tens of thousands of public job affiliates. They will reach 500,000 in number, faced with the hazard of starvation forcing them to adopt defensive measures to protect their families.

Saleh's reelection will also lead to: the disintegration of the totalitarian print of the JMP leadership, creating a suitable and fertile environment for free and democratic young leaders to lead the political opposition and achieve the democratic and political reforms within the existing JMP and the existing state; and a nonviolent public revolution. Yemenis are fed up with the status quo and are ready for a better future.

A peaceful and public revolution requires the right circumstances, with the political elite having a high level of administrative efficiency along with a desire for peaceful struggle. Creating such an elite is one of the core issues that the JMP leadership must tackle. A public revolution will force the regime to restore what has been looted from the public treasury.

Abdulrrahim Muhsin is a well-known Yemeni journalist and opposition activist. Established the anti-regime movement called “Irhalo” which means get out. He was a former media person of the presidency office.