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Saif Al-Shara’bi, Head of the Security Committee in the Former SCER:

“Our stances are tied to our parties’ stances. I know that JMP is keen about reconciliation with GPC, or rather with President Saleh. I know also that JMP set certain demands, the most important of which are the legal amendments, forming the SCER and releasing the political prisoners. The three issues were a source of agreement between GPC and JMP..”

  Interviewed By: Alahale Newspaper in cooperation with the Yemen post
  Article Date:
September 22, 2008



Yemen Post: Why did the republican decree for forming the new Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum committee (SCER) include you though your legal period at SCER had come to an end?

Saif Al-Shara'bi: This is President Saleh's contentment.

YP: Were you informed about naming you for the post?

SS: No. I was never informed and none consulted me. It was necessary that parties we belong to ask us for our opinions first, but the government did not give them the chance to do so.

YP: Were you surprised at hearing the appointment decision?

SS: I expected this before. It was probable that parties will agree over our names or new ones, so it was not surprising for me.

YP: Were you contacted by President Saleh prior or following the resolution?

SS: Personally, I have not received such a call, because I went out that day by Isha prayer and I left the mobile with my son who told me, upon return, that he had received several calls including one from the presidential palace. After I returned home, I was contacted by some brothers from the GPC and some former colleagues of SCER who were appointed to attend the swear-in.

YP: Were you invited for meeting Saleh?

SS: Never. I was requested by some of my colleagues to come for swearing-in; however, I told them that we must cooperate for driving all parties to resume dialogue and seek a solution. 

YP: Your apology for not accepting the uncontested selection of parliament was late and thus timed with the issued republican decree.

SS: This is right. We did not expect our name to be announced without reconciliation among the political parties. At the same time, we were not nominated by our parties and the legal period of the former committee came to an end by October 2007; however, the majority in parliament hastened and voted for the effective law and against the constitutional amendments, though GPC and JMP reached an agreement after much and constant efforts.

YP: GPC accused the opposition parties, JMP, of seeking to achieve advantages outside the law and constitution as well as forcing more confessions in its part and postponing elections? 

SS: I don't think so. It could be no more than a reaction and comes within the frame of political plots. As GPC hurried to vote against the constitutional amendments, JMP accused it of seeking to conduct elections alone or to create a crisis for postponing them. 

YP: What is your stance as former representatives on the elections commission?

SS: As individuals, we do not have personal stances; however, being keen about reconciliation and the overarching interest of the homeland, we wish that political players could reach an agreement over the pending issues, which were a source of agreement in the past. Reconciliation will defend the country against crises and disasters.  We are exerting efforts for achieving that. 

YP: Some interpreted GPC's hasty voting against the new amendments, though JMP's list of nominees was ready, was a preemptive step for splitting JMP block?

SS: I could say that the majority, GPC, was hasty in voting against the amendments over which both GPC and JMP were having negotiations for over one year. Unfortunately, the majority was confused and, perhaps, you watched in TV and saw the mess with MPs, when voting, while sitting, standing or moving here and there. Some say that voting was not considered or allowed enough time.

YP: Though amendments were not to the level, GPC steps were not understood and some said that the GPC seeks to hinder any political reconciliation and create a crisis?

SS: Personally, I see that there are wise men in GPC and JMP who seek to conduct the elections in their due time and see no excuse for postponing it.

YP: Once opposition parties do not reach an agreement over forming the SCER, what will be your stance?

SS: The differences of GPC and JMP over important issues are in the country's interest. Having agreement over these issues will clear the electoral field and create a good atmosphere for the voter.

YP: If GPC insists on entering elections alone; will you accept SCER membership?

SS: If GPC approves conducting elections alone then they will appoint other members from the 15-member list presented to President Saleh and we will not be part of it.

YP: So your stance is associated with reconciliation and legal amendments?

SS: Yes, if our parties wish to re-nominate us.  Our stances are tied to our parties' stances. I know that JMP is keen about reconciliation with GPC, or rather with President Saleh. I know also that JMP set certain demands, the most important of which are the legal amendments, forming the SCER and releasing the political prisoners. The three issues were a source of agreement between GPC and JMP. 

YP: But there was detour on President Saleh's directives?

SS: President Saleh's directives were clear and I do not think that he retreated though statements by some GPC leaders could point to such attitude. Again, such statements do not express Saleh's wish.

YP: I understand from you that entering elections without resolving the pending issues is not accepted?

SS: Entering elections is ultimately up to JMP leadership. JMP shall decide what they want at the right time; however, issues like legal amendments and clearing the electoral field are all considered obstructions before joining such elections. I guess that it is difficult to enter these elections without proper solutions for these issues.

YP: You were formerly the head of the security committee and people said that you along with Abdullah Dahan were not allowed into your office and faced a lot of hindrances?

SS: At the beginning, there were some hindrances; however, we managed later to overcome them and both of us performed our duties in the SCER, irrespective of implementation level. 

YP: Through your short work in the security committee, what are your observations?

SS: The security committee at SCER is doing a technical task and it serves as a connecting link in the field. It also sets the plans and financial budgets for field security committees and moves the ballot boxes and other belongings of committees to provinces. 

YP: Was there a shortcoming in the performance of security committees?

SS: Some security elements have been  in their posts since the 1993 elections and this allows them to control the elections committees that are not experienced enough to take their own decisions.

YP: What is the nature of problems you used to face?

SS: Security committees originally follow the electoral committees according to law and when electoral committees are ignorant about their tasks, security committees then acts outside law. Some officers detained voters, candidates or some members of the election committee and without a legal cover.

YP: Final say?

SS: I pray to Allah in this blessed month to send down mercy on the people and guide the government to have mercy on its citizens and help the poor and needy. Mosques are crowded by beggars. We pray as well that Allah will guide political parties to reconciliation and to the right path and protect our country against harms.