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|General People Congress (GPC), Ruling Party Leader Mutahar Luqman:|
“The economic and political problems are mainly caused by the shortcomings in democratic institutions, as well as the weakness of the institutionalized treatment of parties and the backward law of parties. Some parties have not changed their leaderships since their establishment, and this shows the lack of democracy in these parties. There should be periodic and regular elections in these parties.”
Interviewed by Abdul Baset Al-Qaderi of Alahale Newspaper
in Coordination with The Yemen Post
Article Date: August 25, 2008
Abdul Baset Al-Qaderi: When Yemen comes out from one crisis, it goes into another … who fuels such problems?
Mutahar Luqman: First, what are the reasons for these problems? When this happens in any country, there exists a party who feeds and benefits from it. In my opinion, the economic and political problems are mainly caused by the shortcomings in democratic institutions, as well as the weakness of the institutionalized treatment of parties and the backward law of parties. Some parties have not changed their leaderships since their establishment, and this shows the lack of democracy in these parties. There should be periodic and regular elections in these parties.
AA: The ruling party, General People Congress (GPC) is one of those parties who have not changed its leadership?
ML: What we, in GPC, take pride in is our work for reinforcing democratic practices as was the case during the last local elections. We set a democratic mechanism through which we selected our candidates for the local elections and this was a key reason for our victory.
AA: But what happened in the governors' elections was the opposite?
ML: I will come to this later. The implementation and mechanism used in the elections brought about shocking results; 75 percent were elected, while only 25 percent were selected uncontested. This indicates that people have already started to differentiate between what is right and wrong.
AA: This means that GPC is democratic by its own nature?
ML: The matter is relative. GPC democracy is, to a great extent, real.
AA: Is the country's problem democratic or rather that of hunger and low income? We have rules but they are not applied and there is democratic advancement, but gaining livelihood is the problem!
ML: When we return back to the philosophic roots of democracy, we find that its roots call for equality and freedom. If democracy is reinforced, then there will be equality in people's economic and daily lives, as well as fair wealth distribution and opportunities.
AA: So our democracy is deformed?
ML: It has not reached the level at which its total and noble goals are achieved. However, this does not mean that we should not mar its current level and situation. We have to cling to it and to work for its improvement. In the end, the citizen measures it against what is achieved in daily living.
AA: In your opinion, what are the reasons behind Sa'ada war?
ML: Answering this question makes you laugh as each party has its own answer. There are complicated and accumulated reasons for the Sa’ada war. Some of these reasons are visible; others are not. However, I personally consider it to be an intellectual problem made in reaction to an extreme trend.
AA: You mean Salafis?
AA: You stand for education outside the official education, as advocated by Hussein Al-Houthi in his intellectual lectures?
ML: Such talk could only be of extremism's outputs.
AA: However, the state is wrong when it leaves sectarian religious schools to teach outside state's official institutions?
ML: That is right. This is one of the shortcomings and defects that resulted in such schools. If we were keen about our institutionalized work, especially in the educational field, and prevented youth from joining such intellectual institutions, we would not be facing such problems, whether in Sa'ada or Hadramout.
AA: Last week, some spoke of tendencies to treat the situation of Hashmis following Sa'ada war?
ML: I find no connection between Hashmis and Sa'ada war and pointing to a limited group of people is not right. This was among the errors that came up over the last period. It is completely false to put all Hashmis in the Sa'ada events basket. Houthis included both Hashmis and non Hashmis. About 60 to 70 percent of Houthi followers are not Hashmis. Regarding state's side, there were Hashmis and non-Hashmis in the army and they sacrificed like others.
AA: Unequal wealth distribution among Yemenis is the reason why most problems occur in the country, we see classifications and people are put in social groups?
ML: This is right. It returns us back to the subject of shallow-rooted democratic practices. When such practices become deeply rooted, everything will be treated on equal citizenship principle. Absence of social justice, whether geographic or sectarian, is an Arab phenomenon and it results from the absence of a modern state. Youth and intellectuals should deal with the modern state as their issue, and they should work for reinforcing and developing the principles of democratic practices. This will help finish unfair practices in all its shapes.
AA: Al-Houthi was a wing inside GPC and was supported. Authorities now support Salafi and Sufi groups through which the regime seeks to make certain achievements outside the democratic frame?
ML: This is partly an extension of pre-unity conflicts and it is part of errors that we should admit to. Personally, I see that sectarianism is a weapon of mass destruction. It is a very dangerous card and playing with it is playing with fire. It might bring an interest to a certain person or party; however, its cost will be dearly paid later by the people.
AA: The Authority gives more concessions for those who resort to guns, while it shuts the door before the political prisoners who struggle peacefully?
ML: Regarding Sa'ada concessions, I know nothing about them. I know that there was a ceasefire and war ended; however, this principle should take us to search for the reasons. We should be happy for its end because it is important to the country's interest.
AA: The political system has come to a closed path as for the electoral system?
ML: On principle, I am for developing the electoral system from one constituency system to the relative list system, mainly because the defects and problems are few in the relative list system. However, we cannot say that the individual constituency system did not bring positive results. We have to develop it now, and this should come at the request of any party. It should also be measured according to the country's interest. I think the relative list system is more pressing now as it can bring out fair representation for all political forces.
AA: How do you interpret GPC's stance as for clinging to individual constituency system?
ML: The current initiative was presented by President Saleh in 2002; however, I do not know the reason why opposition parties represented in Joint Meeting Parties did not take it then and ask for more reforms. Now, the opposition parties presented this subject within their matrix of demands. As a legal expert, I see that it is difficult to shift for the relative list system when only eight months are left before the upcoming parliamentary elections.
AA: Suppose that opposition parties boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections?
ML: I do not think that the opposition parties will boycott, because no party will accept its political death. Impossible!!!!
AA: Recently there has been speech about GPC coalition with marginal parties, and further it broke up the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party?
ML: There are differences among Ba'ath Party leaders. Some leaders sign coalition agreement with GPC, while others rejected. This was not planned.
AA: GPC is known for breaking the political work and cloning parties?
ML: What happens is not always produced by GPC and they are not the problem and excretion of our reality.
AA: But reality is made by the one who owns wealth and authority?ML: Do not forget that it is, in the end, political work, but there exist red lines.