- SANA’A - The People’s General Congress (PGC), Yemen’s ruling party, may consider in its upcoming conference the nomination of a woman for presidency.
The move will only be taken should President Saleh not run for a new term, said Yasser Al-Awadhi, deputy head of the PGC parliamentary bloc.
Al-Awadhi said that the conference would be full of “surprises” concerning political reforms, including amendments to the election laws to allow all local council members, including governors, to be elected.
The same measure would be applied to some Shura Council members. Al-Awadhi said the moves reflected the PGC policy of continually renewing itself. The party, he said, would name a woman to run in the coming presidential election only if the Islah Party officially announced a female candidate, Mohammed Qahtan had said.
Qahtan had called upon the opposition to agree on naming a woman for president during the 2006 election.
“If Islah is to nominate a woman,” declared Al-Awadhi, “in an official statement either by itself or within the framework of the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), before the PGC, the latter would consider the matter and might adopt nominating a woman as one of its options.” Ahmed Obaid bin Dhagher said that talk of local or presidential elections is premature.
Qahtan said that the opposition had not discussed its presidential nominee and that it would unite its views when official procedures commenced.
“We haven’t decided who our nominee will be, but all options are open: we can either boycott or compete in the election, but no decision has been made yet.”
Al-Awadhi said that his party was determined to restrict 10% constituencies to women nominees as a unilateral step that was not shared by the opposition.
He said that the so-called reform initiatives were not even eligible to be discussed as they were unrealistic, and did not adhere to national values, particularly those suggesting a division of the country into regions. Al-Awadhi added that if such initiatives were directed at the PGC, it was the latter who had called for dialogue which was suspended by the opposition. But if they were meant for the public, they should be refined and included in the opposition parties’ election programs and left to the public to judge.
While the opposition presented what it called a framework for political reform, the Nasserite Unionist Party put forward its own reform initiative. Meanwhile, the Yemen Socialist Party (YSP) Secretary General, Yassin Saeed Noman, said that his party did not have its own initiative and that it would settle for what was stated in its fifth conference political report, considering it the party’s political initiative.
Nevertheless, Noman emphasized the importance of continuing dialogue between his party and the PGC along the terms agreed by the two sides. As for the postponing of the two parties’ dialogue committee meeting that was scheduled for last Sunday, Bin Dhagher said that it was due to the YSP wanting more time to present a working paper and not waste time with protocols and courtesies.
He said his party’s suggestions concerned the effects of the 1994 war. “By removing those effects,” Bin Dhagher continued, “we mean to create a new state of relations between the two parties, and then put an end to the oppression that had been exerted on areas in which the war had taken place.”
He denied that the meeting had anything to do with the JMPs, adding that it was the first time since 1994 that such a profound dialogue had been held between the two parties, in view of their strained relations. It would be natural, he said, to start with issues that could thaw relations in order to then build upon them.
“We cannot imagine any possible success for the dialogue while the YSP local headquarters out of its control,” he said. The YSP was working with other JMPs, Bin Dagher continued, to reach a mutual view of the reforms, but that would take time.
“We in the JMPs believe that now is the time for critical political, social and economic reforms in the country. Reforms should strengthen unity and democracy and move the country forwards.” Qahtan said that should the YSP and PGC find common ground, it would be for the good of political life, adding that the Islah Party would not be isolated if the JMPs were dissolved as a result of YSP and the PGC coming together, because the Islah always had a secure position in any pluralistic political system that attracted rather than discouraged alliances. “When you have political weight, you are a magnet that continually pulls others towards it.”