The presidential show begins:Two independent, two opposition and Saleh in lead [Archives:2006/967/Front Page]

July 27 2006

By: Hamdan Dammag
Five official candidates have been announced for the upcoming presidential election, while the main opposition candidate is facing a real challenge by independent candidates supported by the ruling party.

SANA'A, July 24 ) From among 46 applicants, five have been declared official candidates in the upcoming presidential election.

In a joint session of the House of Representatives and the Shoura Council in Sana'a on Monday, the following individuals received constitutional recommendation to vie for the post of president:

1. Ali Abdullah Saleh, the ruling General People's Congress (GPC) candidate, with 237 votes

2. Faisal Bin Shamlan, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) candidate, with 51 votes

3. Yaseen Abduh Saeed No'oman, the National Council of Opposition candidate, with 33 votes

4. Ahmed Abdullah Al-Majeedi, an independent candidate (a member of the Yemeni Socialist Party, which is a member of the JMP), with 28 votes

5. Fatehi Mohamed Al-Azab, an independent candidate (a member of the Islah party, which is a member of the JMP), with 22 votes.

Three other applicants received votes, including two of the three female applicants: Rashida Al-Qaili (three votes) and Thikra Ahmed Ali (two votes). The third applicant was independent Abdullah Maqbol Al-Saiqal with one vote. In addition to two invalid votes, the total number of votes was 378 that is 92% of the total 411 possible votes, which is the total number of members in the two legislative chambers.

Each of the five candidates is expected to get YR 25 million (approximately $126,903) from the government to fund their campaigns. Candidate recommendations were decided by secret ballot, which began Monday morning, after the Supreme Court ruled on appeals by five applicants whose applications were rejected. Other candidates withdrew from consideration in favor of President Saleh, whom they said was the competent candidate.

The political game

The JMP has 67 seats in both legislative chambers, yet its official candidate, Bin Shamlan, received only 51 votes, thus raising a question about the JMP's seriousness to back their candidate. Furthermore, according to, Yasser Al-Awadi, Vice Chairman of the GPC bloc in the House of Representatives, said before the vote on Monday, “The GPC has decided to give Bin Shamlan some votes, for fear of the JMP not voting for him.”

Although considered opposition, No'oman (General secretary of the Nasserite Democratic Party) and Al-Majeedi (Socialist Party) were voted for by the ruling party, as declared earlier by Sultan Al-Barakani, Chairman of the GPC bloc in the House of Representatives. Voting for the two independent candidates was seen by many as a way to weaken the JMP candidate. Commenting on this, a high official at the Socialist party who requested to remain anonymous said that the party was upset with his decision to “join ranks with the GPC and distract JMP votes” and that the party might decide to “kick him out”.

Socialist party Member of Parliament Dr. Mohamed Saleh Ali described the GPC's support for such candidates as “ruining the election process.” On the other hand, Dr. Abdulrahman Bafadhl, Chairman of the Islah Party bloc in the House of Representatives, congratulated the candidates, terming the voting process “satisfactory.”