Observer article rehashing everything. A decent recap. (Observer tends to lean pro-govt.)
President Ali Abdullah Saleh called on all political stakeholders in Yemen to join in dialogue and open discussion with the Government about the political reforms included in its electoral program. All parties accepted the invitation except for the JMP.“The political reforms have to coincide with the changes occurring in this era and cannot be rigid as the rigidness seen in some political forces,” said Saleh.
This was said during President Saleh’s speech to mark the celebrations of the September 26 Revolution, October 14 and National Independence held at the College of Military.
“There is a sort of contrivance for crisis being perpetrated by some political forces to escape their own internal problems. They try to put these crises into the streets by exploiting demonstrations and sit-in of retirees from the army and security,” said Saleh. “This is not helping the country but rather it hinders and constrains projects and investments and reflects a distorted image of Yemen and its people,” said Saleh “These political forces have misunderstood what real democracy,” he added.
President Saleh said that the door will remain open for all political forces to debate as it is in the public interest. “Solutions other than dialogue may lead to disasters and division and the public is the ultimate referent,” said Saleh. President Saleh said that he always calls for dialogue at the local and international levels and said that drawing policies in closed rooms is wrong.
“The dialogue will not only be for political parties but has to include civil society organizations as well,” he said. “We are all partners in running matters of the country within the democratic frames and not partners in contriving crises, said Saleh.
The call to all political forces last Thursday was to reform political practices in Yemen, and achieve constitutional reform. “The aim was to exchange viewpoints to come out with a mutual vision for political reform,” said Saleh.
He then talked about the common error of blaming the president for everything that happens in the country. “If the price of tomatoes rises, if there are less onions in the markets, they say it’s the president. Anything and it is the president. We are not a totalitarian regime here; the Imamate rule is over,” said Saleh.
President Saleh then talked about local governance and the most important reform for the country is the move towards decentralization. “People are afraid of local governance, but this local governance is to increase the public participation in decision making,” he said. President Saleh also announced an extra budget of $276 million that was approved for construction and development projects.“If we look at what is being said about the lands, we will find the evil, malicious, irresponsible call that some are doing by saying that people from northern governorates are looting and stealing the lands of citizens of the southern governorates, this is a total lie and is aimed at creating a problem,” said Saleh.
President Saleh then stressed the importance of founding democracy within parties and said that “talk about democracy without practicing it within their parties, is a big problem,” said Saleh.
The last Monday meeting of President Ali Abdullah Saleh with leaders of the political parties and organizations was a call for an open and frank dialogue over all national issues and requirements for the current period in areas of policy, economy, society and development.
This is when President Saleh announced, his intentions to amend the state’s constitution and suggested altering the country’s government to a presidential system. The initiative of President Saleh is first to reduce the presidential tenure from seven years to five and the parliamentary term form six to four years.
The initiative also included changes to the Legislative Authority, whereby the Parliament and Shura council will become one. Under the changes local authorities will also take responsibility for the governing of taxes and internal resources. According to the initiative each governorate will form local police and a general central security forces equal to arms forces.
A Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) will be formed a Judiciary Council consisting of 14 honest and competent judges seven of whom will be selected by the president. The president also suggested allocating fifteen percent of the parliamentary sets for women.Most attendees found the meeting highly valuable and welcomed President Saleh’s call for dialogue to include all parties of the political process and civil society organizations.
They expressed discontentment with the absence of the Joint Meeting Party (JMP) in the meeting, as they are a part of the political system of the country, which is grounded on pluralism.
President Saleh expressed his sorrow that the JMP did not accept his invitation but he said the door would still be open for any party to participate in the dialogue.
He concluded his speech by announcing the allocation of YR8 billion annually to increase salaries of military and security forces.
Secretary General of the Islah party Abdul-Wahab al-Anesi said that the JMP welcomed the president’s invitation but the official media had portrayed the opposition in a poor light and this was the reason for the rejection.
Al-Anesi said, “we welcomed the invitation sent to us, but talk of the official media is the reason to apologize for not attending”
The official newspapers that accuse the JMP of treason and conspiracy and abuse of national unity unconsciously abuse the President himself. The JMP leaders are looking to take a lawsuit against those media at the same time hoping to put an end to these practices,” he added.
Dr.Mohammed al-Dhaheri, chairman of political science department at Sana’a University said there were positive things in the president initiative, especially the one that talks about local governance. “Local authority and movements towards decentralization is one of the most important characteristics of democracy,” he said
Al-Dhaheri said, “Yemen doesn’t need the two rooms. The Parliament is enough in a country like Yemen but it has to reactivate its work and the powers. The parliament needs to strengthen its supervisory work on the government.”
With regard to the rejection of the JMP of the call of President Saleh, al-Dhaheri said that he supports dialogue.” There is a sort of mistrust between the ruler and the ruled but I am personally with dialogue,” said al-Dhaheri.
Yemenis engage in dialogue with the outside world more than themselves and Yemenis also engage in dialogue only in critical times and not from the beginning. Politicians should also know that they are human beings with mistakes and the opposition should do its work monitoring the government and finding its mistakes,” said al-Dhaher.