Will there be elections? [Archives:2008/1214/Viewpoint]

December 8 2008

Nadia Al-Saqqaf
This is the very question that haunts every political circle and intellectuals interested in Yemeni politics. We have three possible scenarios: the GPC will go ahead with the program as planned regardless of the demonstrations and the opposition parties' demands, the JMP and the GPC will reach a hasty compromise and the elections will happen on time, or the JMP and the GPC will agree to postpone the elections until they reach a reasonable agreement.

The first scenario will simply mean that the ruling party will be competing against itself which is ridiculous. No international observation delegation will come and no local NGOs will participate, it will be a mockery. Word has it that, if this is the case, the GPC will nominate a number of female candidates to distract observers and get the people to talk about something new. The GPC banners hung on the main streets calling for women's rights and political participations, as well as the public statements read by several high-level GPC officials also confirm this point. The prime minister himself had said on more than one occasion that the government wishes to nominate several women to decision-making positions in government and in parliament. This is a good thing for women, but is simply a side product that could have been achieved within a more democratic framework of a multiparty system, not a gender-sensitive single party system.

The second scenario simply means rushed elections and confused voters. It also means that while the JMP says it is not having any negotiations with the ruling party, it is essentially doing so behind closed doors. People will feel deceived and will wonder about the credibility of the opposition, especially since one day it pushes its supporters to the streets calling the ruling party the enemy and the next day they are best friends, regardless of the fact that many of the supporters are still in jail or recovering from it. This is one of the major problems with Yemeni politicians: Whether government or opposition, they only involve the public when they need to create mass pressure, but in reality don't care what the people really need or want.

The third scenario -the most likely- is for the dialogue process to take its due time until a suitable compromise is reached. It does not matter that the elections take place on April 27. It is more important that they are real elections and a step forward in the democratic process, that all parties are represented, that the campaigning takes its due course and that promises made to the people are understood, weighed and decided upon.