Two Famous Intellectuals Express their Views about the Presidential Elections [Archives:1999/33/Interview]

August 16 1999

The ensuing presidential elections is the focal point of discussion among the Yemeni politicians these days. The refusal of the parliament to endorse the opposition’s nominee sent shock waves down the spines of the concerned politicians. The decision of the opposition to boycott the elections has added some fuel to the fire. Therefore, these elections is seen by many concerned politicians as fruitless and lack the real and healthy sense of competition. To shed some light on these elections and foresee the situation in Yemen after these elections, we have talked to some outstanding politicians in the society. Here is what they have said.
Abdulaziz Sultan expresses his thoughts, Al-Wahdawi Chief Editor,
“The results of the upcoming presidential elections will introduce Yemen to the third millennium. This should have given us a strong impulse to make great progress and achievements in this field, however, what we have made until now is not a lot. Moreover, What is happening now is actually a primitive step that will ultimately create obstacles and hurdles in the face of devising solutions for our difficult economic and social problems. These problems become horrible if we take into considerations the worries of developed countries which make progressive and dynamic steps in order to put an end to such difficulties. In comparison to this we find that we in our country are only hoping to tackle theses problems without making any sincere attempts to solve them. Therefore I am not at all optimistic to what future restores for us.
There is a strong gap between what they say and what actually happens on the ground. We have been given talks and speeches the past years stand a witness. If you look at our situation with a discerning eye, you will find that we are always successful in the theoretical side which is very clear if we think of the political programs and laws which are great in spirit but so feeble to be carried out. So we do not practice what we preach. We call for accountability and punishment for the corrupt and breakers of the law, however, we have never seen this implemented and a corrupt was brought to justice. Instead we could only see a glorification of all cases of violations and corruption not only amid the people in power but also amid employees whose state of disappointment and despair makes them, at the beginning, indifferent to all kinds of corruption happening around them and then they show their admiration and encouragement to anyone who could exploit his position for the sake of his self interest. If we look back in time to see what had been said in the previous elections and try to compare it with what has been carried out, we will find a strong proof for this conclusion. This will also validate that there is a clash between the two opposing forces; between what is said and what is carried out.
It is obvious that the relationship between the opposition and the ruling party is very tense and I think that it will be like this for a period that pends on the ruling party’s actions. The strong challenge facing the ruling party for the time being is its actions against corruption and corrupt people in the governmental institutions and its plans for the future. These two issues besides a strong focus and stress on the implementation of a democratic atmosphere will be the course the opposition parties concentrate on and I think that this is the correct basis for the opposition to pursue in the future as they are eligible and upright issues. Furthermore, the opposition does not need to exert great efforts to uncover corruption and cases of violations done by the regime as lots of sources express their understanding of the opposition attitude especially after the latest procedures made by the regime. The main obstacle the opposition may face is the illiteracy prevalent among the people who are ignorant of the importance of their political life. There are different political, economic and social rights that are still within the hands of the rulers and if some are given to the people, they are given after a massive course of showing off of their generosity.
My view of the decision of the Coordination Council is that after the non-confidence of the opposition’s nominee, the council was to choose one of two attitudes: either to participate or not to participate in elections. The council has chosen not to participate which is actually good for the ruling party. However, the ruling party is disturbed by this action for the ruling party will be able to win easily as he will only need 51% of the voters’ number who most of them are in favor of the ruling party. The disturbance of the ruling party can also be understood in another way as the ruling party anticipate that there will not be many voters casting their polls for the presidential elections especially after the appeal of the coordination council to people not to participate.”
On this issue, Dr. Mohamed Abdulmalik Al-Mutawakkil expresses his thoughts,
“I can see nothing new. What will be their is more economical, social and security deterioration. The rejection of the opposition nominee indicates the determined intention to go backward as well as the absence of the real spirit of democracy. The presidential elections are over now. Regarding the implementation of what the candidates promise in their programs, you can go back to the programs of the ruling parties in the 1993 and 1997 elections and compare them with what you see in reality.
I think, after the comedy of the Presidential elections is over, the ruling parties will try to tempt the opposition parties in an attempt to deprive them of the chance of being a real opposition that people may choose someday when they think of a change. The success of the Government in this regard depends on the Coordination Council for Opposition and its reaction to such attempts. The opposition parties had to make a clear-cut decision after the rejection of its nominee. I suggested to the opposition parties to declare boycotting the upcoming elections in a different way. For example, they can declare that they are no longer interested in the elections. They can then withdraw from the electoral committees and turn to highlight the political dimensions of the cancellation of the competitive elections and its consequences on democracy. After this they can prepare for the local and parliamentarian forthcoming elections and rearrange their existence in the electoral districts.”