Third Lawyers Conference  Kicked off [Archives:2000/08/Reportage]

January 21 2000
Jalal al Sharaabi 
Yemen Times 
Over three days  15-17 February, the Third Conference of Lawyers was held at the Culture Center in Sanaa to elect a new chairman of the syndicate besides a Disciplinary and  Syndicate Councils. 
A heated campaign had raged between the ruling party on the one hand and the opposition parties on the other as both of them  presented a lists of their candidates for the posts. However, as a result of some strong pressure exercised by the PGC, elections were put off from last Wednesday to Thursday without clear-cut reasons. 
The position of the chairman was occupied by the PGC for the second time while the Syndicate Council was formed from the two lists presented by the ruling and opposition parties. 
About 800 members from all the governorates attended this conference, however, their hopes of change were very dim. They were not at all content with its results especially after the interference of the ruling party to keep the ex-chairman who belongs to the ruling party. Besides, they are aware of the weak role played by the syndicate during the Second Conference held in Aden in 1996 during which the leadership of the syndicate did not present any practical and clear prospect to activate the syndicate work. 
The Syndicate of the Yemeni Lawyers seems to be the only syndicate that has not been subjected to division due to the partisan censorship and dominance which paralyzes syndicates activities. 
Yemen Times interviewed a number of lawyers to see their points of view about the Third Conference and what they look forward to see from the new leadership. 
Shayaf Al-Usifi said Holding the Third Conference of the Lawyers Syndicate was after endorsing the law of lawyers by the parliament and was also amended by the president of the Republic so as to protect the lawyers rights and join them in a syndicate that aims to develop legal awareness in our society as lawyers are the standing judges. 
The number of lawyers attending the conference was really remarkable and impressive. However, the syndicate did not arrange the conference well. It was also attended by a number of lawyers from the Union of Arab Lawyers as associates and observers. The inauguration of the conference was attended by the president himself, minister of the legal Affairs, some scholars and a number of representatives from different syndicates in Yemen. 
Elections of the Chairman, Disciplinary and Syndicate Councils were conducted last Thursday 17.2.2000 and went off well. However, many Yemeni lawyers are not satisfied  with its results. 
We  look forward to seeing  the new syndicates active role to activate and modernize the lawyers syndicate and among the lawyers themselves. 
We will wait to see how the syndicate does its work and what will it do for lawyers. We hope that the new syndicate will dominate and get out of its state of motionlessness that characterized the previous syndicate. We are now before two options; the first of which is either to modernize and develop the syndicate while the second one is that the current leadership proves its a complete failure. 
Mr. Khalid Al-Anisi, a lawyer, said The conference, as considered by the majority, was the first ever professional conference in which profession took precedence over parties. As a matter of fact, we were afraid at the beginning of the conference of the political plots for some parties try to control the conference. However, what we found is that there is  a sense of responsibility, unity and seriousness towards all the issues dealt with in the conference and the elections which have resulted in a somehow balanced Syndicate Council as members were chosen according to their efficiency and not anything else. 
I believe that the chairman was not changed for a number of reasons such as, no candidate was qualified enough to compete him. Besides, the parties of the coordination council were not successful in choosing an alternative for him not because he was not qualified and for his behavior but because of his limited contact and relations with the other lawyers. 
There were some other names the opposition could have selected and they might have won the chairman position. However, there was not a special focus on the professional side while electing. They look at the political side and the divisions between the opposition parties therefore there were some names who were ignored as candidates. 
Moreover, when lawyers find themselves at weak options that do not constitute a change for them, they preferred the ex-chairman as a matter of paying tribute and appreciation for his role. Besides, there were some lawyers who refused to introduce themselves as candidates though it was certain that they would win. They did so mainly for the sake of the syndicate; they are certain that the ex-chairman is approved by the authority and if another one comes to hold his position, the authority may not like him and this may have affected the syndicate and their sacred profession negatively if the authority does not cooperate with him so as to make him a failure. 
Gamal Al-Gaabi, a lawyer, said first of all, I would like to say that Mr. Abdul Majid Yasin, the competing candidate elected by the opposition, was not himself convinced of presenting himself as a candidate. He did so in response to a political partisan decision. 
I hope that the current Syndicate Council will establish a real professional work and that it will assert the principle of judiciary assistance stipulated in the constitution. 
Though there were some political as well as partisan paralogism conducted when electing the candidate of the opposition for some parties did not live up to their promises and went to elect Mr. Al-Basir. 
I also do hope that the current Council will consider the issue of Mr. Hafid Fadil and Rakiah Hamidan who participated in the elections of the Palestinian National Authority in 1997 which was a clear normalization attitude  and was absolutely contradictory to the articles of the Union of Arab Lawyers. All in all, Mr. Al-Basir, chairman of the syndicate, is considered to be one of the outstanding syndicates leaders and is a national personage very much known for his loyalty to the profession. 
Mr. Abul Majid Yasin, the competitor for the position of chairman, said We must establish a real professional syndicate that assures social security, rights as well as duties for the lawyers. 
The procedures of elections went all well. The only thing that we can complain about is the delay of casting polls from Wednesday to Thursday which has affected the whole make up of the syndicates bodies. I am pretty sure that if elections were held on the assigned day, Wednesday, things would have been much different. 
It is undeniable that there was some pressure exerted by high partisan sides so as to control the course of these elections, however, our sublime aim is to have an independent syndicate and we will do our best to achieve it. I was also hesitant to compete with Mr. Abdul Fatah, however, I accepted the competition after he refused to introduce himself as an independent candidate and came as the candidate of the PGC. 
Mr. Mohammed Al-Mikhlafi, current chairman of the Disciplinary Council in the syndicate said It is a well-known that the syndicate was shut down since 1996. However, what makes this conference so special and is different from those held after 1994 is that it was held in a transparent, clear and correct basis. We have conducted elections in a democratic way. 
We in the Disciplinary Council will work to complete forming the council according to the articles of the new law. If we receive any complaints filed against lawyers, we will take appropriate measures according to the effective laws. 
We hope from the new syndicate to establish real syndicate activities that will get it out of the state of stagnancy that prevails most bodies of the civil society and that it would be the start for the syndicate work.