As news outlets reported on the Yemeni elections that are to take place in February, I found the fact that a sole candidate running could be considered as elections an insult. Vice President Hadi had power passed on to him when president Saleh signed the US backed GCC deal in Riyadh last month. The deal meant that President Saleh agreed to pass power to the vice president within 30 days and hold early presidential elections within 90 days. The initial thought was that other candidates were supposed to come forward, therefore then giving the people of Yemen a wider choice of candidates and fairer elections. (Although I do have to say the youth refused the GCC deal)
Nothing in Yemen though ever goes as smoothly as we’d hope or like it to. The issue is not that Vice president Hadi is running for presidency; the people want fair elections and therefore he has the right to run. The primary issue is the reports that 1. The parliament of Yemen has voted by consensus to close nominations for early presidential election. 2. There is only one candidate running. 3. This set up benefits the GPC and JMP more than anyone. It seems they are merely changing faces and not the actual regime structure.
The youth were the ones who’d started the revolution, they did everything in their power to keep it alive and have done well challenging the regime. Their demands being that President Saleh steps down and as the regime committed crimes against peaceful demonstrators; for president Saleh and aids to be tried. Other goals and aims to be achieved long term were for the widespread corruption to be eliminated and to generally get Yemen on the road to democracy; as is with all revolutions.
What’s disheartening to see is 1. The youth although most probably know about the elections are not taking an active stance regarding it. 2. There is no candidate fitting the Yemeni constitution who has come forward. ( The only person supposedly wanting to run is the late Al-Hamdi’s niece and nothing is confirmed) 3. Time is not on the side of the revolutionists, the elections are not far off and any challenges need to be made now.
At this moment in time there is no choice on the matter of the presidency and none ready to challenge for presidential candidacy. I find it ridiculous therefore to actually call what will be on the 21st of February an election.
Although in Yemen’s constitution it states in Article 108 that presidential elections shall be by a competitive election, where proposals must be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and whereby at least two candidates must run for the elections to be valid.
I don’t understand then when considering that the constitution stipulates certain rules with regards to the elections that why more people are not speaking up. The people have found their voice in this revolution and I hope they use it before the ‘Unity government’ pulls the rug from under our feet.
I do have to point out though reports suggest that the argument by parliament is that the GCC deal overrules what the constitution states. This seems Preposterous as the people of Yemen didn’t revolt against being ruled by a dictator only to have a president forced upon them. While the GCC deal and the clauses of the deal are totally rejected by the youth; the elections will still go ahead. I therefore find it more beneficial if the revolutionists worked on getting suitable candidates rather than just on refusing the deal and ending there.
I hope that the youth start addressing the matter quite seriously and that they come up with an action plan. There have been suggestions for elections to be boycotted, which I think is unwise and will just prolong the uncertainty. Merely observing the situation from afar – although I fully know that the youth reject the whole GCC initiative; the matter of presidency needs to be looked at and dealt with. I hope the youth become more politically aware so that they are able to challenge while understanding, on what do the ‘New government’ base their arguments on. If more candidates that fit the criteria were put forward, then the revolutionists will have something to base their legitimate challenges on.
Despite all this – I have high hopes for the revolution and as the past week has shown us, the people have an unimaginable determination for change. I hope that we start to see more action with regards to how they will deal with this problem. I know the youth want Ali Abdullah Saleh and his aids prosecuted for the crimes committed and rightly so; but I also want them to face this not so new government head on. This government is made up of old dogs with some new tricks; the youth need to be fully prepared for everything.