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Political Conflict Hampered Relief Efforts in Eastern Provinces
  Written By: Hasan Al-Zaidi (YEMEN POST STAFF)
  Article Date:
17, 2008



The recent statements of the ruling party and opposing Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) leaderships do reveal the gap extent between them, especially when both sides are exchanging accusations over exploiting floods disaster that afflicted eastern and western provinces for their political interests, giving less attention to the huge human and marital damages.

Observers stress that the disaster has indicated that the gap between the ruling party, the General People Congress (GPC) and opposition cannot be bridged and there is no room for national cooperation as for facing the disasters that afflict the country where political differences should be overlooked.

They further point out that this could be part of the ongoing conflict between GPC and JMP over the amendments of elections law, formation of the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) and other issues on which both sides have reached no settlement.

The current political conflict between the ruling party and opposition cannot be separated from the differences over different issues, where each party is trying to administer and invest the disaster in its benefit, giving no consideration to the feelings of afflicted people.

Similarly, there has been a division among media outlets and their stances of the current issue as some opposing and independent newspapers have waged a harsh attack against the government and the ruling party, accusing them of being inattentive to the disaster and people's sufferings.

These papers accused the ruling party of the political investment of the disaster and letting it into the political conflict field, hinting this has badly affected the relief efforts in the affected provinces.

According to analysts, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has managed to administer the crisis when he paid earlier field visits to the afflicted areas.

Saleh's visits together with Ahmad bin Dughr have aroused opposition parties which rely very much on Hadramout, on their ongoing political conflict with the ruling party. The province is the homeland of Faisal bin Shamlan, the powerful candidate who rivaled Saleh for presidency in 2006 presidential elections.

Hasan Ba'aum, who leads the southern mobility nowadays, belongs to this province as well. And the same applies to the head of the Islah Party bloc in parliament Abdul Rahman Bafadhel.

Within the ongoing conflict between GPC and JMP, Member of Parliament and head of Islah Party's Executive Bureau Muhsen Ali Basurrah, accused the authorities of being inattentive to people's lives as they provided no warning equipments or safety measures.

Basurah continued that officials were racing to board the helicopters, leaving the affected citizens under the open sky, stressing that local authorities were confused and blind to people's problems.

For his part, Bafadhel accused the state of working outside human norms, claiming that officials distributed aids and relief equipments in a partisan manner.

In response to the JMP statements, Deputy Prime Minister for Interior Affairs Sadeq Ameen Abu Ras harshly attacked JMP leaderships and accused them of investing the disaster through the charitable societies.

Abu Ras hinted that state should act responsibly and should not allow any charitable society to work only through the official channels. "Anyone can provide assistance and relief, but through local authorities and official channels," he said. 

Such statements have angered some personalities who run charitable societies and establishments that receive millions from Hadrami businessmen abroad or from international charitable societies.

Further, Hadramout local authority has accused JMP, particularly Islah Party, of investing the disaster for political purposes that have no link with human work. "Unfortunately, our brothers in the Joint Meeting Parties did not realize that this was a huge natural disaster and beyond the capacity of the local authorities. The relief acts were politically-motivated," revealed the Head of Service Committee at Hadramout Local Council Omar Bawazir.  

Bawazir mentioned that President Saleh's presence in Hadramout eased the disaster for people and further reduced the tension and worry of locals as he himself supervised the relief efforts.  

According to observers, the conflicts of the political forces have passively affected the flow of relief aids from abroad, especially by Hadrami billionaires existing in some Gulf and foreign countries.

However, some local businessmen and commercial houses have taken the initiative and announced personal donations mounting to hundreds of millions of Yemeni Rials. 

Popular relief convoys deployed from across Yemen, as seen by observers, have been a sincere expression of national attachment and solidarity.

In return, the government relied on the popular donations of citizens, businessmen and commercial houses, together with donations from some neighboring and foreign countries and international organizations and charitable societies; however, the absence of Hadrami businessmen's donations has aroused big question marks.