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Mohammed Al-Sabri, Nasserite Party Leader:

“Every ruler does not rule with his power or strength because he is a human being and he rules through others. However, some rulers rule through institutions and others through people who are carefully selected either because they are from the same family or because they are faithful, though sometimes they do not understand anything. This is the problem with dictators who give priority to people faithful to them over efficient and capable persons..”

  Interviewed By: Abdul Baset Al-Qaderi For the Yemen Post in cooperation with Alahale newspaper
  Article Date:
October 27, 2008



Yemen Post: In his interview with Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, President Saleh hinted at reconsideration of multiparty system and closing down parties if they split up the country?

Mohammed Al-Sabri: My interpretation is that there is an attempt at providing a cover for those who seek to cancel the rights of citizenship, highway robbers, those who inflame wars or ask for secession, and those who pillage the country wealth. There are strange attempts to cover for these acts and thus the authority resort to jump over the small wall; e.g. to announce canceling the multiparty system and parties. It is parties that call today for respecting the law and defending unity as well as transforming the country into modernity. It is enough that these parties have reflected a good picture of Yemen when it democratically participated in the last presidential elections where millions of people took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations and marches. Perhaps, when the state failed to fight corruption, it thought that dissolving parties could solve the problem.

YP: Has Saleh's speech before the Republican Guards and Armed Forces any special indications?

MS: President Saleh realizes that the institution of the armed forces is not a private property and this was always reflected in his speeches. We also assure that the military institution is a national institution and property to all Yemeni citizens. I am not worried that Saleh will invoke the army against parties.

YP: How do you read the Joint Meeting Parties' (JMP) stance for the forthcoming elections especially when they say that they will not boycott elections according to the conditions of the General People Congress (GPC) nor participate according to its wishes?

MS: JMP takes political decisions of national issues connected with the past, present and future. Some people read the JMP stance out of the event and not the issue and the project they carry. The JMP has a national project for building the country; however, some people wanted opposition to give up their project. If JMP responds to these wishes, then it has given up its national task and project.

YP: But JMP stance of elections is still vague?

MS: We look at elections from the angle of the national project. We see that it should be a development, stability and political progress means and not to be a décor for beautifying the face of the ruling party (GPC). I believe that any politician's task is to work within the frame of law. Thinking of an event outside the formulated laws will make opposition parties violate their principles and projects. 

YP: Electoral processes are underway by the ruling party, while the JMP talks about its adherence to the democratic option as a solution to the country's crises, will you boycott?

MS: The difference is that a party seeks to make an event which is the ruling party while we seek to make a national achievement.

YP: What if this national achievement was not made?

MS: Achievements can't be linked to one party and they are tied to people's will. The opposition parties seek to safeguard the democratic gain and not elections. This democratic gain lies in public freedoms, peaceful acts, etc. through which people can express themselves and demands their rights.

YP: JMP signaled at the National Counseling Project, where have you reached so far?

MS: When the JMP felt that dialogue with the ruling party was blocked, it admitted as early as January that the national crisis has been the key concern for JMP parties and bases because we know what citizens suffer. The right decision was that the crisis has become larger than to be contained by the ruling party or opposition and thus it was necessary to have the people as a partner to resolve the crisis.

YP: What about your joint project for reforming?

MS: The JMP, through its national reform project, was dealing with a normal situation; however, the situation changed following the presidential elections as it changed to be exceptional. Thus, the rising issues were added to the JMP project. There has been a change in power balance and the opposition parties can't claim to be the whole Yemen, so Yemenis should be partners in the national rescue program.

YP: Yemenis usually resort to national conferences to resolve their crises?

AS: Like other people, we seek solutions when we reach a tensed situation and people feel danger and this makes them think of ways-out. Most ways-out take two forms: the first one is elections and this can be sought when the situation is still under control; however, this option is what the authority seeks to devastate right now and thus more voices in the southern provinces call for boycotting. The second form is the wide national dialogue which adopts democracy and gets away from the past tribal and social gatherings.

YP: It has been noticed that President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s speeches are subject to deletion and adjustment, as was the case with his last speech where the last part was deleted?

MS: I am surprised that President Saleh’s speeches are subject to adjustment or deletion and I don’t know who is responsible for such adjustments. They are made as if Saleh does not know what to say. A president’s speech means two things: either direction or resolution being in charge of the country. Speech should be sensible in matter relating to public affairs.

YP: Is it the people’s right to know what the president wants to say?

MS: For sure, people have the right to know what the president says. Why do people who sit before him have the right to hear every word he says while other people listening at home are denied such a right? It is one of the citizenship rights. We have to give more interest to what the president says because he is the president of the state and citizens have the right to hear and watch what he says without being adjusted. It is a constitutional right.

YP: So practicing guardianship and adjusting his speeches are constitutional violations?

MS: Yes, It is so. Because citizens have the right to access information, to hear and see what the president says and to express themselves in the way they like. Any adjustment or deletion in presidential speeches is a stark violation of constitution.

YP: Do you think, as opposition, that such a guardianship extends to include the decisions?

MS: Anyone ventures to consider himself smarter than the president and adjusts his speeches can simply consider any decision by the president to be not sensible and in need for some modifications. Consequently he can adjust, change or just put these decisions in his drawer. This is the problem with Arab rulers as they bring advisors and employees who block the path between them and the citizens.

YP: So there are certain parties that rule instead of the president?

MS: Every ruler does not rule with his power or strength because he is a human being and he rules through the others. However, some rulers rule through institutions and others through persons who are carefully selected either because they are from the same family or because they are faithful, though sometimes they do not understand anything. This is the problem with dictators who give priority to people faithful to them over efficient and capable persons. 

YP: How can we understand that Saleh accepts such acts on his speeches?

MS: If you search and examine things carefully, you will find that there is a problem with the very nature of the Yemeni ruling system.  The long period Saleh has had in power, which is considered the longest for a modern Yemeni president, creates two problems. One of these problems is psychological where the ruler and his clan believe that they have built the country when it was not there and thus they have the right to posses it. They feel now that it is a private property and none can challenge them over this property. Now, they see that opposition is committing a crime when it tries with them to reach power. Westerners are wise enough because they limited ruling terms to eight years so that rulers cannot turn the countries into a private property. The second danger is that there is a state of no change, chilliness and rejection of the other where the rulers’ clan and advisors hold that “What comes will never be like what has passed”. However, such beliefs are wrong and politics are subject to change.