Top Ruling Politicians Rob State [Archives:1998/01/Front Page]

January 5 1998

Property Openly
The news hit a lot of people hard. It came as a devastating blow to me. The top politicians of Yemen ‘privatized’ the housing complex financed by Libya in Sanaa. The original idea behind constructing these buildings was to re-settle the leaders of the former YSP in the unity arrangements. Now, the bounty is shared by the top men around President Saleh, some of whom already own lots of real estate in Sanaa.
The frustrating part in all of this is that these thieves often blame the tribesmen and sheikhs who rob and steal. I asked one of them, why? He had no answer except looking away. All these individuals are well-off. They do not need to rob the state simply because they are in charge. I then raised the issue with the prime minister. “How can you ask the people of Yemen to accept making sacrifices when the top politicians are stealing government property in broad day-light?” He had no adequate answer. The confiscated houses where originally built with Libyan aid to facilitate the re-settlement of the then leadership of southern Yemen in Sanaa. I ask all these crooks to hand back the deeds of the properties they confiscated or else, the following will happen: 1) The Yemen Times will run pictures of the palaces and the names of the top politicians who have confiscated them, even if that happened with the president’s nod of approval. 2) We will mount a campaign to expose the wealth of these individuals to the general public and ask, “How, when and where they got it from?” 3) We will talk to everybody – locals and foreigners – and expose the unsatiable greed of these politicians who wear cloaks of decency and integrity. I hope we are all spared more grief on this matter and that these guys will see the light. I sincerely pray that the message gets across.
Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf Professor, Sanaa University.