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|JMP and Government Clash; Opposition Protest Turns Bloody|
Hakim Almasmari ( YEMEN POST STAFF )
Article Date: December 01, 2008
Confrontations between security forces and demonstrators affiliated with the opposing Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) left 23 protesters injured, three in serious condition, as protesters were attacked by governmental forces. Governmental sources were forced at times to shoot bullets to the air to disperse protesters from the scene.
Despite the fact that security forces were armed with batons and armed, they blocked all the roads leading to Al-Tahrir, the supposed congregation place for the protest. The JMP gathered nearly eighty thousand of their followers in the protest and called for boycotting the forthcoming parliamentary elections due to be conducted in April 2009.
Journalists were also attacked while covering the protest, as seven journalists were injured. A number of journalists reported that their cameras were damaged and were verbally threatened by security forces.
Opposition sources revealed that 24 of demonstrators were arrested. Hours later, they were released.
As they were denied access to the congregation place, demonstrators marched through the streets of the capital protesting what they called attempted rigging of elections and the illegitimacy of the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER).
These demonstrations come as opposition parties refused to participate in SCER formation without positive changes done to it first, after both JMP and the ruling party, the General People Congress (GPC), failed to reach an agreement over the election amendments and the formation of the elections commission.
Meanwhile, a source at Interior Ministry held JMP leaderships responsible for any consequences resulting from their insistence on conducting the public congregation in Al-Tahrir Square as they had violated the permission granted to them by the ministry, which allowed them to conduct it in Al-Thawra Stadium.
The source added that opposition parties were allowed to conduct their congregations in Al-Thawra Stadium to avoid the crowdedness in Al-Tahrir area.
Stressing that security forces will act responsibly to force the law on those who wish to disturb people's security and peace, the source called on JMP leaders to act wisely and to give priority to the national interest and to practice the democratic right in a responsible manner that never harms the country or people's interests.
Four-year extension for local councils
Yemeni parliament approved last Monday amending a law proposed by the government that stipulates a four-year extension for the existing members of local councils, which were elected in September 2006.
Several observers noted that this move is a democratic setback, especially when it contradicts a plain legal text which states that local and parliamentary elections shall be conducted simultaneously once the time difference between both elections is less than one year.
The government justified this move by hinting that it is impossible, from a technical point view, to conduct both elections at the same time and stressed the elected local councils should be given more time so that they can play their role.