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Ruling Party Proceeds in Preparations for Elections, US State Department Concerned
Written By: Moneer Al-Omari
(YEMEN POST STAFF)
Article Date: December 22, 2008
Stalling negotiations between the key political forces and delaying the local elections have alarmed the European Union delegation and the U.S. State Department and prompted them to call upon these forces to shoulder the responsibility and work for making the forthcoming elections a great success.
"The lack of consensus and cooperation between the major political parties in Yemen puts the successful execution of the elections at risk." This is how the U.S. State Department expressed its concern over the lack of consensus and cooperation between the major political parties in the country.
This call is made after one-year of negotiations and dialogue between the ruling party, the General People Congress (GPC), and the opposition parties represented by Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), especially when both sides had failed to reach reconciliation over the amendments of elections law and the formation of the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum.
The statement released by the office of State Department Spokesperson Robert Wood and published on the ministry's website noted that the differences among the political players could put the successful execution of the elections at risk.
It also welcomed the upcoming parliamentary elections and considered it to be an opportunity for Yemeni people so that they can renew their democratic institutions and processes; however, "It is important for the integrity of the election process that preparations proceed in a fair and transparent manner, untainted by violence and accusations of misconduct," said the statement.
The statement noted that concessions by both sides could help resume the stalled talks between the ruling party and opposition. This "contributes to a perception that neither the ruling nor opposition parties are prepared to make the concessions necessary to ensure that the citizens of Yemen are able to express their political will in a free and transparent election," continued the statement.
To conclude, Wood called on "all political parties in Yemen to return immediately to dialogue to reach a consensus on the procedures for the upcoming parliamentary elections that are consistent with recommendations made by international election observers in 2006."
Moreover, the statement considered all Yemeni political parties responsible for an active democratic participation.
"Yemeni political parties share the responsibility to participate in the democratic process and to find a consensus to allow the elections to proceed in a manner that will reflect Yemen’s commitment to democracy. We look forward to a spirited campaign season, overseen by the responsible offices of the Supreme Council for Elections and Referendum in an orderly and transparent manner," affirmed the statement.
Ruling party unconcerned
Informed sources stated to the Yemen Post that dialogues and talks are ongoing between representatives from the ruling party and opposition. However, little or no success has been achieved so far.
President Saleh delegated his Political Affairs Advisor Abdul Karim Al-Eryani early last October to lead the ruling party's team tasked with negotiating with opposition parties that are represented by the Secretary General of Yemeni Islah Party Abdul Wahab Al-Anesi.
Observers reveal that the ruling party is not serious about negotiations with opposition parties especially when it managed to establish a parallel cloned coalition of parties known as the National Council for Opposition (NCO), stressing that such a move by the ruling party was made in an early preparation for a potential boycotting by the opposition.
Following failure to form the SCER, President Saleh re-appointed the former elections committee members to act in their posts. However, the two JMP members, under directives from their parties, refused to join the committee. This prompted Saleh to appoint two independent and NCO members.
In return, opposition parties rely too much on the attitudes of citizens and the deteriorating economic situation as well as the increased rates of poverty and unemployment in the country.
Four-year extension criticized
The Sana'a-based European Union office criticized the four-year extension for current local councils which were elected on September 20, 2006. This comes after the Yemeni parliament approved last month amending a law presented earlier by the government.
Legal experts emphasize that this move is a democratic setback and note that it contradicts a plain legal texts which states conducting simultaneous local and parliamentary elections.
But the government sees that it is impossible, from a technical point of view, to conduct both elections at the same time, a pretext considered by experts to be an attempt to opt for the local elections later without being worried about another race.