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|JMP Spokesperson Mohammed Al-Mansour:|
“If the ruling party decides to enter elections alone, this will be catastrophic to the country and GPC too. Thus, JMP will be exempted from any commitment towards the current authority and policies. This will be the last coup targeting democracy, the republican and political system. It will be a suicide attempt for the ruling party. By then, JMP will decide its stance.”
Ahale Newspaper in cooperation with the Yemen Post
Article Date: December 22, 2008
Yemen Post: Where does the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) stand now?
Mohammed Al-Mansour: During the few weeks prior to Eid Al-Adha, the opposing JMP started its first round of peaceful struggle where it sought to make its voice heard by citizens, officials, and the world. The message hints that we will peacefully struggle to extract our legal rights ensured under law and constitution. Through communication with some parties in the government, the JMP voiced clearly their stances resting on the conduction of free and impartial elections. The elections require reconciliation between the political players that provides a safe and sound atmosphere for elections and deepens the democratic practices in people's minds especially when these practices were distorted under the corrupt practices of authorities.
YP: What are your priorities?
MM: Without elections there will be no democracy or realization of the principle of peaceful transfer of power. Through free and impartial elections, we can achieve real reforms that lessen the burdens of crises on citizens. Elections also help reduce wars and internal congestions and problems. The private measures followed by the authority made us sign the death certificate of democracy introduced with the unity of May 22, 1990.
YP: The demands ceiling of JMP demonstrators in the capital and other provinces was conducting free and impartial elections; however, some people see that these demands are not to the level?
MM: The gatherings of people who took to streets prove that opposition parties do not live in closed rooms. They can take to streets and motivate people. People nationwide proved that we are there and we have a great issue. There is a social contract between the ruler and the ruled; however, this contract should not be built on the divine right of the ruler.
YP: Still your demand ceiling is down; when you speak about fair elections you will get less than that?
MM: JMP vision presented last November required free and impartial elections together with referring to several national issues without which, it is impossible to enter elections. Among the priorities are halting the internal wars, resolving the Southern issue, resolving Sa'ada crisis, releasing all prisoners and abandoning arbitrary arrests and violations. These demands are designed to be a frame for a harmonious political reform through which people can have a healthy and safe atmosphere for free and impartial elections.
YP: Under no circumstances the ruling party bet on the participation of JMP in elections. Some talk that GPC bets on time as it will provide last-minute concessions for opposition to participate in the April 27 elections?
MM: During the last press conference of JMP, I assured that we will not accept imposed elections. This simply means that we will not participate in elections in their current form.
YP: Does this mean that you will boycott April 2009 elections?
MM: We will not participate … the card of boycotting, as an announced stance, will not be granted to the ruling party to exploit it against us. The detailed description of our JMP stances leads the GPC to claim that we are blamed for hindering democracy.
YP: So this is a JMP tactic?
MM: It is not a tactic. We work through steps. Our first step was to boycott registration process and we consider any act, policies or practices by the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) to be invalid.
YP: What is your stance once GPC decides to act alone?
MM: If the ruling party decides to enter elections alone, this will be catastrophic to the country and GPC too. Thus, JMP will be exempted from any commitment towards the current authority and policies. This will be the last coup targeting democracy, the republican and political system. It will be a suicide attempt for the ruling party. By then, JMP will decide its stance.
YP: You will not sit at your homes?
MM: Certainly not. It will be a positive boycott.
YP: We hear about initiatives presented by the ruling party, what is the reality?
MM: The fact is that there is nothing new in these initiatives. They transmit ideas and we respond by affirming our announced stances expressed in our vision for free and impartial elections. A mediator who seeks to activate the negotiations once asked us to provide an explanation for our stance and we issued a supplement that illustrates JMP vision and demands which come within the recommendations of the European Union and the agreement of principles. However, the ruling party has never responded to these recommendations.
YP: What does GPC seeks to achieve out of its talk about initiatives?
MM: The ruling party seeks to achieve many goals. It also tries to absorb the different American and European advises and to signal that dialogue is ongoing. GPC tries to impose the policy of actual reality. Moreover, GPC attempts to convince people that it makes confessions, but JMP does not. In fact, it makes no concessions and it is demanded to act within the frame of the agreement of principles or other texts by the European Union. We do not look for concessions and we only demand national rights and respect of law and constitution.
YP: What is the stance European Union and foreign countries from the current dispute about elections?
MM: They are not all equal. They are keen about Yemen and they are interested in conducting elections as known from their positions. However, they have something to say about the August 18 coup against democracy and have reservations about conducting elections from one party. The National Democratic Institute sees that elections should be delayed and such a call is consistent with the JMP attitudes.
YP: Returning to pre-eid mobility, people in Greece were demonstrating 9 days in row against killing a youth by police. They demand the government to resign. How do you read what had happened in Sana'a where live bullets were opened on demonstrators, taking into account that we are a democratic country?
MM: There is a wide difference between our democracy and Greek democracy. There is a democratic culture in Greece. There is a ruler and a prime minister who never described the demonstrators as traitors, secessionists or Imamates despite the fact that he is a right-wing extremist. For them, democracy is part of their behavior and system of thinking, but the culture here is military.
YP: You, in JMP, promised to sue those who opened fire on demonstrators?
MM: We are still in the process. The Eid vacation has elapsed and we pray for quick recovery of the injured people. We ask God to have mercy on those who were killed in Aden and other Yemeni provinces. We still keep our promise and pledge to follow people's cases in courts.
YP: The ruling party says that motivating people to demonstrate affects the country and investment?
MM: JMP followers have shown high national responsibility. They have never picked a single branch of tree, nor have they broken a single piece of glass. All attacks and violations were triggered by the authority. As for investments, all people know who is blamed for dismissing investors.
YP: Has JMP decided to resort to the street?
MM: JMP has never been absent in the street so that it decides now to resort to it. Most people belong to JMP, even those who are not among the bases, as it represents them through demands. This is acted in our mobility and constant struggle to deal with people’s different issues.
YP: The street you talked about also supported the GPC?
MM: I think the event of the bloody Thursday, which I call awakening Thursday or November Intifada, made it clear that JMP came out with majority of people while GPC came out with few people, mostly school students.
YP: The National Counsel process is slow; do you use a pressure card?
MM: Counsel is a strategy and it is not a tactic by JMP. The slowness is prompted by the huge volume of the project and the limited resources.
YP: Is it right that you are in contact with Abdul Malik Al-Houthi?
MM: JMP is about to conduct a national counsel process. Houthis, being part of the Yemeni people, will be among the targeted groups.
YP: Abdul Malik Al-Houthi issued a statement in solidarity with you during November Intifada, is this a convergence?
MM: Abdul Malik is a moderate person and he simply shares the wrongfulness with those who were attacked in the capital's Al-Tahrir, Al-Hasaba and other areas.
YP: What is JMP stance of demands for releasing prisoners detained over Sa'ada events?MM: Prior to August 18 coup, we presented a proposal for releasing people detained over Sa'ada events as this is a national demand that could help resolve other problems.