While the ruling GPC undertakes to hold elections in due timeJMP demands re-forming the election committee [Archives:2008/1190/Front Page]

September 15 2008

Aqeel Al-Halali
For the Yemen Times

SANA'A, Sept. 13 ) The ruling General People's Congress (GPC) has confirmed that the upcoming parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in April 2009. In the meantime, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) have demanded that the Supreme Commission for Election and Referendum (SCER) be re-elected “on an impartial basis”.

Sultan Al-Barakani, assistant secretary general of the GPC, said in a press conference last Saturday that the JMP have to choose between either participating in the elections or boycotting them, and maintained that the GPC is committed to the constitutional appointments regarding the elections. He said that the GPC “will work with its international partners to carry out the elections based on the European Union document both the GPC and JMP approved in 2006.”

“50 percent of the items included in the European Union's document don't need any law or constitution amendments,” said Al-Barakani, who heads the GPC parliamentary bloc. “The SCER is expected to abide by the document, except for some items that still need law and constitutional amendment. We will discuss these items with our international partners since the JMP demand adjourning the elections, rather than discussing the content of the document.”

He pointed out that his party welcomed all opinions and views that can improve the election process, including the European Union recommendations, and confirmed that the elections would not be adjourned.

Al-Barakani added, “We are careful that the Socialist Party remains in the political arena since it is a main partner in national unification.”

He further said that the JMP “haven't so far agreed on the names of their candidates for SCER membership “, accusing them of breaking the principle agreement signed between the two sides in 2006.

Concerning the presidential amnesty for political detainees, Al-Barakani said that “their release was based on political will as brothers in the Islah party cared only about Fahd Al-Qarni, and never asked about journalist Abdul Karim Al-Khaiwani or the Socialist Party-affiliated detainees.”

Last Thursday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh had ordered the release all the political detainees detained during the protests in southern and eastern governorates in March and April of this year.

The release decision included 12 leading figures from the Socialist Party and the Islah party-affiliated singer Fahd Al-Qarni. The decision didn't include Abdul Karim Al-Khaiwani who was detained this past June based on a judicial verdict.

While Al-Barakani demanded that Al-Khaiwani be released as he is ''an opinion detainee'', Aidarus Al-Naqeeb, head of the Socialist Party parliamentary bloc, demanded that the ruling party “apologize to all the political detainees and compensate them, particularly since official media has shown them as criminals.”

In a statement to the Yemen Times, Al-Naqeeb claimed that the GPC withdraw all the armed forms in the city and normalize civil life, as well as cancel the decision regarding the SCER issued by Saleh late this past August.

“The bloc of the majority in the parliament formed the SCER in an unconstitutional manner,” said Al-Naqeeb, adding, “the SCER didn't gain two thirds of the parliament's votes and its members were not elected according to a mechanism of secret voting.”

Al-Naqeeb added: “the ruling GPC thinks that the upcoming parliamentary elections will be a game which it can play outside of the law and the constitution. And it calls the JMP to participate in this game.” He maintained that the current SCER is unconstitutional and not legislative, and therefore should be prosecuted.

He said that the GPC, which holds 229 out of 301 seats in the parliament, didn't approve the project of the election law amendment, of which the parliament discussed all the items. “Instead, the GPC approved the current election law, which is an unprecedented act in the parliament.”

With regard to the continuous exchange of accusations between the ruling GPC and the JMP, political analysts believe that “the JMP aims, through its conflict with the GPC, to pass the stage of submitting to the current situation and reach the stage of changing Yemen's critical situation, particularly after the opposition parties feel they are marginalized by the ruling GPC.”

However, some observers believe that “the JMP cannot be a counterpart for the GPC which utilizes all state resources to achieve its targets.” They maintain however that “opposition parties are willing to hold more direct dialogues with Saleh.”