Yemeni regime depends on continued corruption, report says [Archives:2008/1152/Local News]

May 5 2008

Jamal Al-Najjar
For the Yemen Times

SANA'A, May 3 ) Corruption is the number one problem with the Yemeni political regime, which is dependant upon its continuance in order to support influential groups that benefit from the current situation, according to the Yemeni Human Rights Observatory's April 2008 annual report, which was discussed last Saturday in Sana'a.

Seeking to evaluate human rights and democracy in Yemen, the report revealed that despite government measures to combat corruption, such as creating the 2006 Anti-Corruption Law and forming the Anti-Corruption Corporation in 2007, there has been no significant improvement in this regard.

In fact, the report stated that corruption actually is increasing due to lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the ruling party.

The report noted that corruption in Yemen serves five main groups: certain tribal sheikhs, security and military leaders, businessmen with a strong influence within the government, technocrats and local elites, further pointing out that significant corruption revenue comes from the public budget, tenders, security and military authorities and the ruling party.

“The current regime's survival and continuation depends on buying the loyalties of those groups that benefit from this current state of corruption,” the report indicated, further noting that Yemen's electoral system only escalates such corruption, since the ruling party curries favor with these groups by giving them financial support. If such financing was cut off, these groups would find no justification to continue their loyalty to the current regime, the report added.

As a result, foreign financial aid has decreased over the past few years because corruption still represents a major obstacle to the country's improvement. According to the report, the World Bank decreased support to Yemen from $420 million to $300 million (34 percent) between 2006 and 2008 because it says, “Yemen lacks transparency and governance.”

Likewise, the European Union determined in early 2005 to halve its financial aid to Yemen because the Yemeni government is unable to make reforms or eradicate corruption, in addition to the fact that such financial aid isn't spent for the specific purposes for which it is designated.

Corruption also has caused investors to distrust and pull out of Yemen in favor of other countries, even though Yemen is in dire need of the funds such international investment provides.