Where do we go from here? [Archives:2006/985/Opinion]

September 28 2006

By: Hassan Al-Haifi
Yes, the Yemeni presidential and local council (governorate and district level) elections are over and as expected, notwithstanding the strong efforts put up by the Joint Meeting of the Opposition Parties (JMOP) to present a meaningful challenge, president Ali Abdullah Saleh shall continue to rule for another seven years (or is it five years and then another five years after an amendment is introduced to the constitution to reduce the presidential Term to five years, in which case the president might be given a chance to go for two terms, since a new presidential term has been ordained – it has happened before). Indeed, the president and the General People's Congress put in all the muscle at their disposal to insure that the status quo continues, but could the difficulty of the challenge put up by the JMOP maybe lead to some optimism that indeed some possible reforms would have to be introduced in the way the government conducts its business. Whether such reforms could lead to the elimination of some of the almost unholy traits that have characterized the functions of government for over two and a half decades remains to be seen. However, such prospects would be beset with difficulties of an insurmountable nature, because the very machinery that helped insure the re-election of the president would stand in the way of the president, even if he has come down to the sensible reasoning that the challenge that was given in the elections had more to do with the failure of government especially in the last decade, to deliver competently and effectively the minimum desired output expected of a democratic government that puts public interest above all interest. Furthermore, previous promises of concrete government reforms after unification and after the Civil War of 1994, if the public supported the government, have not materialized into any effective re-steering of the government towards proper standards of efficiency and, more important, integrity as promised.

One is only hopeful that the president will now really feel obliged to meet the people's faith that the president is capable of maintaining the stability of the country, while at the same time appreciating their optimism that he can indeed initiate the required reforms that will make the institutional functions of government more receptive to the needs of the people and further away from meeting the narrow interests of those that deem themselves to be “the president's men””.

If the president sternly recognizes how much faith the people of Yemen still have in him