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Omar Abdullah Al-Jifri, Leader in the Sons’ League Party (RAY):

“We have been accused since 1990 of receiving financial support from Saudi Arabia and of being agents. We, as leaders, declare that it is an accusation. If residing in Saudi Arabia after being exiled from the country is considered first class agents, we have honor in that.”

  Interviewed By: Abdul Hakim Hilal & Ali Al-Dhabibi (FOR THE YEMEN POST)
  Article Date:
February 02, 2009



All of a sudden, a new group claiming to be a correction group has emerged from within a deep-rooted party that was established during the 1950s. However, this party has grown old under a leader in his 60s, according to the seceding group, who further accuse him of possessing all authorities and resolutions in his hand.

As far as the partisan and political work is concerned, this is not the first time in which such secession takes place. Several parties have so far broken up. Now, this cleavage involved Yemeni Sons’ League Party (RAY) headed by politician Abdul Rahman Al-Jifri.

Many believe that the coup, described by the young and new leadership to be corrective, is still within Al-Jifri family as the new head of the party is Omar Abdullah Al-Jifri.

As we were conducting our interview with him, Aidrous Abu Bakr Al-Daiani, a former leader in Ray, was present. Al-Daiani made critical and biting comments in response to some questions and he accused Al-Jifri of making deals with the authority at the risk of the party.

Both Omar and Al-Daiani are below responding to our questions about the recent break-up in the party.   

Yemen Post: We would like you to tell us what happened within RAY party and the recent differences with the current head Abdul Rahman Al-Jifri?

Omar Al-Jifri: We respect our uncle Abdul Rahman and his history. He is a pious person, but we see that each stage has its own men. Several years ago, we demanded clear and transparent policies. We also demanded to share in decision-taking and not to make these resolutions individual. We asked as well for reforms within the party's internal affairs and its external relation so that it can be an active party in Yemen's political arena. When the former central committee was appointed, there were promises to have the next committee with the following division: 50 percent for youth, 20 percent for the current leaderships and 15 percent for former leaderships. However, this was never realized as 48 members had been chosen for the central committee. Cleary, they have removed all opponents.

YP: In your press conference, you stated that this decision was made in response to different files including secession and finance?

OJ: The decision was personal. Our brothers, since 1994, have asked for justifications of the then announced decision by the party to back the secession. There were assurances to discuss them during the general conference; however, this has never been realized. 

YP: Was your party affected by that decision?

OJ: Surely. The majority of RAY members were directly affected and were jailed in Sana'a and Aden. Others lost their jobs and interests. This has brought down the number of RAY members to 4,000 instead of 36,000 in the past.

YP: Some say that you are backed by the authority to lead this coup?

OJ: This is completely untrue.

Aidarous Al-Daiani: This question must be addressed to the one who has presidency cars and security guards; the one who received YR 2 million during elections and not to us. 

YP: Speaking about the authority's support to break the party came after Abdul Rahman Al-Jifri had met with some Joint Meeting Parties leaderships?

OJ: No. We have rejected the political blackmailing within the party.

AD: When we delegate the head to speak in our name, to represent us and receive money in our names, he never gives us any clarifications: what benefit did the party get, how much did it receive? We have seen that there is a political blackmailing as the authority gives him [Al-Jifri] whatever he wants and allowed his a closed constituency for his son in Shabwa, together with sovereignty posts.

YP: Are these conditions set by Al-Jifri to participate in the forthcoming elections?

AD: These are the conditions set by Al-Jifri for participation.

YP: Were you offered so?

AD: No! Nothing.

YP: How did you know?

AD: This information was leaked by the authority.

YP: So who supports you if you are not supported by the government?

AD: We spent from our own money. The authorities rob our acquired rights. We wish the authority deals with the party, rather than the individuals. It should publicly present the list of party members.

YP: What list?

AD: The list of party cadre which was approved in 2006 following our return to the country. This cadre was stripped from their posts and jobs after 1994. The list is still reserved by the former head of the party.

YP: What is the volume of allocations allocated to your party by the state?

AD: As announced in July 2008, the party is allocated YR 2.5 million.

YP: Was this sum given to Al-Jifri in return for his participation in September 2006 elections and supporting President Saleh?

AD: Of course. This sum was granted to the party after Al-Jifri swore to support the authority. We are all supporters of President Saleh and this thing is indisputable. However, we demand our allocations, headquarters and posts. In our party, none got back his property or job except Al-Jifri. I myself have been suspended since 1994.

YP: Do you think that you are capable to run the party without support and your salaries suspended?

AD: Our former leaders have led it for the last 40 years with their personal salaries. We track the same path. Once we can deal with Al-Jifri, we can build a powerful party.

YP: You said you want to open the financing file … does your party receive finance from foreign parties?

AD: We have been accused since 1990 of receiving financial support from Saudi Arabia and of being agents. We, as leaders, declare that it is an accusation. If residing in Saudi Arabia after being exiled from the country is considered first class agents, we have honor in that.  

YP: You said that you had been exiled … do you mean after 1994 civil war?

AD: I do not speak about 1994. I am speaking about the 1960s. I am not responsible for 1994 events. The only one to blame is Abdul Rahman Al-Jifri.

YP: Why did you leave the country while you had not been involved?

AD: After declaring secession, we feared for our lives, and were informed to leave the country.  

YP: Omar! You have businesses in Saudi Arabia. Do you intend to lead the party from there or leave your businesses and return back to Yemen?

OJ: No. we are working in an institutional manner. My business will not be affected.

YP: Have you formed the RAY new leadership?

OJ: Preparations are underway and this may take place this week. 

YP: Does your group represent all provinces?

OJ: Yes. We represent all provinces despite the fact that there have been some blackmailing and seductions. Some were for change and removing the current leadership; however, they were seduced to accept the existing situation.

YP: Will you participate in the upcoming elections?

OJ: If the opportunity exists, why not? It is shameful to boycott elections. It is good to participate and have voices in parliament.

YP: Does this mean that you are not with Joint Meeting Parties?

OJ: I am against boycotting the forthcoming elections.  

YP: What is your stance of the Southern Mobility nowadays?

OJ: Southern Mobility is not different from other issues inside or outside the country. We are for legitimate demands – within the frame of unity – sought through peaceful means and away from violence. Demanding rights does not mean blockading highways or fighting armed clashes.

YP: Do you intend to have a new name for the cleaved party or work under the current name?

AD: We will use our party's name, Yemen Sons League.

YP: How come that you have two parties under the same name and what about the party's newspaper (Ray)?

AD: We will have our newspaper and this is not of concern for us.  

YP: Does this mean that you have green light from the Committee of Parties' Affairs?

AD: This is completely untrue. We are not searching for a license to found a new party. We are leaders in an existing party and we just wanted to make a correction move. 

YP: Were you contacted by Abdul Rahman Al-Jifri following the coup?

OJ: No. I contacted Abdul Rahman and visited him at his house in Sana'a prior to the general conference. Reminding him of President Saleh's amnesty, I asked him to forgive and to accept those members who believe they behaved wrongly.

YP: Do you think that authorities may exploit the coup to support you or prefer your strong enemy?

OJ: We do not rely much on such a matter. We rely on the freedom margin allowed in the country. From my own experience, I see that democracy and freedom margin is wide enough.