Monday, January 31, 2011

Feb. 3: Yemen’s ‘Day of Anger’

Observed by: Mr. Alaa Isam

SANA’A, Jan. 30 – Yemen’s coalition of opposition parties, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), confirmed that this Thursday will be Yemen’s ‘Day of Anger’ after National Dialogue Committee talks failed to materialize.

Mohammed Saleh, spokesman for the JMP, told the Yemen Times that the opposition has planned for protests around the country.

“It will be huge, all over the country,” he said.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, head of the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party, on Friday called on the JMP to hold talks about the proposed constitutional amendments and the country’s political situation with the ruling party. These talks would have been between the four members of the National Dialogue Committee consisting of: Yemen’s vice-president, the consultant of the president and the leaders of the two main opposition parties.

Yaseen Saeed No’man, general-secretary of the opposition Socialist Party and a member of the National Dialogue Committee, said that the ruling party called for talks but that was to “waste time”. He told the Yemen Times that the JMP did not receive any official invitation to resume talks.

“The dialogue has stopped. It was only media talk and GPC talk and nothing official,” No’man told The Yemen Times. “Everything is getting more complicated now since the GPC repelled the National Dialogue talks. They formed the electoral committee and made constitutional amendments on their own.”

Tariq Al-Shami, spokesman for the GPC, blamed the JMP for not coming forward to participate in National Dialogue talks.

“The GPC is still waiting for the JMP’s response to our invitation to resume talks. This was to reach reasonable agreements about the constitutional and electoral amendments,” said Al-Shami. “We in the GPC are careful. The dialogue table should be the place where we discuss the amendments and solve any issue so that everyone holds their responsibility toward the country.”

Al-Shami also told the Yemen Times that opposition parties in Yemen, especially the Conservative Party, tried to imitate the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordon, but that they would not succeed.

“Yemeni people and society are different from any other societies. It’s a tribal country and people own weapons in all of Yemen. So the people will defend themselves. We are sure that if the JMP, or anyone thought about it, they would realize that the people will revolt against them,” said Al-Shami.

He added that the GPC would go ahead with elections in April despite calls from the JMP to postpone the voting.

“We are optimistic that the JMP will be reasonable, otherwise the GPC will continue implementing its program regarding the constitutional amendments and holding the election,” he said.

No’man meanwhile denied that Yemen’s public demonstrations were held to imitate any other country’s protests; neither Tunisia nor Egypt.

“What the GPC says about the JMP betting on Tunisia and Egypt is not true at all. We know that the regime has produced necessary conditions for the public to demand change and the Yemeni people don’t need to import these conditions from any other country. This regime provides them with it by the daily crises it creates,” said No’man.

He stressed that the JMP remains dissatisfied with the proposed constitutional amendments from the ruling party, saying that they would not stand for an amendment that would allow President Saleh unlimited years of power.

“These amendments came to serve the authorities, not the country and the people. Therefore the people went out on these public demonstrations to express that they are fed up with the political situation,” said No’man. “The question now is: is this regime in a situation that allows it to make any social, economic or security improvements?”

No’man added that the JMP did not count only on its members for the public demonstrations. He said that all Yemenis, the youth in particular, were called to participate for change. He said that violence was also not an option during public demonstrations.

“We are against violence and it’s always been the dictator’s choice but not the opposition’s,” said No’man.

The JMP has already succeeded in holding four different protests last week attended by thousands of Yemenis. Last week also witnessed similar protests in Taiz, Shabwa, Al-Mahra, Haja, Al-Dhale’e and Hodeidah calling for regime change.


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