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|Saleh Seeks to Win Pressmenís Loyalty|
Hasan Al-Zaidi (YEMEN POST)
Article Date: September 01, 2008
President Ali Abdullah Saleh resorted to addressing media outlets through a press conference organized by the ruling party, the General People Congress (GPC) to clarify some points relating to the stalled dialogues with the opposition parties represented in Joint Meeting Parties (JMP).
Saleh wanted to bring media to his side as for the JMP agreement on the elections law amendments, after receiving presidential directives to release people arrested over the Southern Yemen protests, and who JMP describes as political prisoners.
He was also aware of the role JMP media outlets play especially among simple citizens. The opposition parties have been recently launching an intensive media campaign against the ruling party accusing GPC leaders of trying to form the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) without involving other parties.
"We have no problem about the old elections law; we made the law together and we are partners in it," Saleh noted. "However, they insisted on making amendments and we responded to their demand and negotiated the matter with them for two months until we reached the final form."
Saleh continued that they were going to name their candidates for SCER membership early last week, but this did not happen due to disagreements with the opposition. Thus, parliament was forced to vote against the amendments and for the previous law.
The president also told pressmen that we are before an upcoming democratic entitlement, the parliamentary elections. In this respect, he called upon all political forces to participate in the political process and expressed his regret over the absence of JMP representatives.
President Saleh accused the JMP address of inciting a crisis, organizing demonstrations and sit-ins, and calling for secession.
Further, Saleh mentioned that he had ordered the release of those imprisoned over political cases and not those convicted with criminal cases, adding that any one staging sit-ins in Aden and holding high the flag of former South Yemen will be jailed on criminal charges and will be trialed; whilst having opposing opinion about economic, political and security is accepted when it is expressed peacefully.
He called on the partisan media, especially JMP media, to stand by the government media and support their fellow government pressmen, stressing that opposition media seemed to be happy with what was happening in Sa'ada as for killing soldiers and citizens as well as destroying villages.
He went on to say that he told the head of the Nasserite Unionist Party to write a list for those who are politically jailed and he will sign for their release. He also revealed that political deals and blackmailing are not accepted anymore.
Moreover, the president called on journalists to exercise caution, to avoid lying, and to hunt after truth so that citizens can read their columns or papers, emphasizing that fire first afflicts first on the one who flamed it.
President Saleh speech aroused JMP and prompted them to issue a statement in which they mentioned that GPC does not keep its promises and obligations signed with political partners.
The statement also accused the ruling party of trying to rig the forthcoming elections and demanded an immediate release of the political prisoners.
It continued that they asked for applying Saleh's directives before voting for the amendments of election law; however, GPC refused to respond as evidenced by the statements of its high ranking leaders.
Further, the statement hinted that JMP members in parliament were prevented from stating their parties' stances and only GPC members voted for the law.
It also considered GPC parliamentary bloc to be responsible for the bad consequences resulting from their party's attempt to work alone in a way that serves its own interest, at the risk of the interests of citizens.