Trumped up glories [Archives:2006/969/Opinion]

August 3 2006

By: Ali Al-Sarari
We are on the threshold of the Yemeni presidential elections, but he who follows the state run media would just as likely assume that we were heading towards war! There is no end to the wars of despotic regimes in any time or place. No sooner have they finished one than they ignite another. However, when there is not an enemy to fight, they create a psychological war against their people, employing the media and rumors. The security authorities would not stop for a moment from chasing the citizens and watching their every movement. In Yemen, the security system has interfered in everything, with the excuse that this is the only way of guaranteeing good conduct and protecting the general security.

Nations, like Yemen, which are subjugated to this type of regime, do not even have the opportunity to catch their breath. The atmosphere of the battle and smell of powder hangs, always, in the air regardless of the nature of the country's present task, as there is no difference between the task whether political, economic or military whether facing an external attack or internal rebellion.

It is supposed that Yemen is preparing itself these days for the elections and atmospheres that should dominate are those that help the citizens focus their thinking on determining their upcoming selections freely. Nevertheless, what happens follows a different course. The state-run television and other media instruments darken the mood leaving pervasive tension and enmity. The media do not air the choices presented before the elector public and insist on offering one choice: the president and his political party. Other choices are portrayed as hostile and described as betraying, inferior and other such provocative descriptions.

All this is done to the contrary of the terms of impartiality of the TV and other official media during election processes. Although impartiality was stipulated in the agreement of principles signed by the ruling party and the Joint Meeting Parties, the media has nowadays devoted itself to praising the glories of the president and his achievements, and praising the strategic accomplishments of his party. In association with all that, they present the opposition options with defamatory and libelous phrases. As glories and accomplishments are non-existent in this country since it has been prey to the alliance of despotism and corruption, lies and deceit dominate the situation.

A person in Yemen would think it is a country without a history predating Ali Abdullah Saleh and that this history will come to a standstill if he were to step down from power. Instead of congratulating the president for the length of his stay in power, they bless the people that he is their leader, thus making the monopoly of power into a gift for a people devoured by poverty, burdened with unemployment and killed by diseases that have all but disappeared in the modern world. When president Saleh assumed power in July 1978, the income per capita in Yemen was $700 and after 28 years of his keeping power the income per capita reduced to les than $300. Despite that; the official media congratulates us for his being the leader of this people. A number of countries lagged behind Yemen in the scale of development at the time that he assumed power but they have since watched Yemen get relegated to last place along with other afflicted nations of the world. However, they still talk of accomplishments and strategic achievements.

Corrupt and despotic regimes are still perching on the chests of many people in the world but none of them inflicts offence on their peoples as the Yemeni official media does. The disdain reaches a great extent when the citizens are forced to take to the streets in demonstrations appealing for the leader to retract from his decision to leave power, but the official media tell us that the masses have behaved voluntarily. The most explicit sight of hypocrisy was that when one of those upstarts made a young girl beg the leader to nominate himself for another seven difficult years.

Some of them have also tried to exploit the demonstration organized in protest at the Israeli aggression on Lebanon last week to propagate for the election of the candidate Ali Abdullah Saleh.

To add to all those insults directed at the people, and after his presenting of his nomination papers, the president presented a number of internal wars as being trends of his election platform. Maybe these promised wars can be implemented. The promises of development and investment mentioned in previous election campaigns have all failed.

Ali Al-Sarari is a Yemeni Journalist and a well-known politician. He is the head of the information department at the Yemeni Socialist Party.