Upcoming elections: between integrity claims and vote rigging wills [Archives:2008/1189/Opinion]

September 11 2008

By: Mohammed Saleh Al-Qubati
Yemen is approaching a dangerous turning point in the course of politics, under which the coming phase of Yemeni people's living will be disclosed positively or negatively. Aspects and details of the upcoming parliamentary elections are being crystallized in the current political scene amid the worsening national turmoil, along with its negative aspects on the ground.

In this allergic and complicated context, the outcome of political conflict between the two extremes of the political equation has been going sharper since the most recent presidential and local council elections in September 2006.

Both sides are notably wrangling over the proposed election law reforms, as per the various bilateral agreements reached between both sides such as the Agreement of Principles, signed in June, 2006 and the other agreement concerned with recommendations of the European Election Observation Mission, which was signed in December 2006.

Both sides also signed other subsequent agreements as part of their bilateral dialogue that lacked the minimum level of seriousness and credibility over the past two years. Being conducted randomly, the dialogue reached no tangible results, and therefore it was officially halted in September 2007. It uncovered the potential contradictions between both extremes of the political equation as an extensive expression about a conflict between two contradictory wills and positions about the upcoming parliamentary election as follows:

Contradicting wills of authority and opposition:

One: Will of the authority and its party. This will intends to reproduce the same authority, as well as renew its outdated political legitimacy via decorative parliamentary election and exploitation of public money and facilities.

Yemeni authority is known to be skilled in exploiting public funds and property and rigging voters' wills, plus cloning previous electoral experiences in a way enabling it rearrange components of the subsequent political scene within decorative legitimacy and democracy. The authority's decorative democracy and legitimacy help provide the minimum level of international indicators for assessing status of Yemen's democracy, compared to democratic and political experiences of neighboring states.

Therefore, the authority showed strong objection to the proposed election law amendments and refused to abide by contents of bilateral agreements it reached with the opposition. The authority is evasive and practices various political pressures on the opposition and at the same time exploit its majority in Parliament, with the intention of extorting the opposition parties and make them stop criticizing rampant corruption in the various government offices.

Behaving this way, the authority empties content of electoral reforms out, particularly as its previous plans are meant to establish decorative participation by opposition parties in the election management body since it realized that this is necessary to add political legitimacy to the upcoming parliamentary election.

The authority made constitutional amendments within the context of a guaranteed electoral process under its own conditions and requirements that help it control results of the vote in advance in order to ensure longer stay of the same ruler in power, as well as bequeath power to the sons. Taking such an unwise procedure, the authority adjourns the worsening national turmoil amid partial settlements for many years to come.

Two: The oppositions' will. It intends to transform the upcoming parliamentary election into a gate for political change, thereby putting an end to the traditional decorative style of electoral practices experienced over the past years. Via this strategy, the opposition is planning to create political balance so that the opposition parties can play an effective role in politics, engage in decision making and carry out comprehensive national and political reforms.

Source: Newsyemen.net