Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

Hadi appoints judges to SCER

Filed under: Elections, Janes Articles — by Jane Novak at 2:23 pm on Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On Monday Yemen’s interim president Mansour Abdo Hadi named several judges to the Supreme Commission on Elections and Referendum (SCER). The SCER is responsible for the technical aspects of elections and has a pivotal role in maintaining or subverting the integrity of elections.

In a meeting that included UN envoy Jamal ben Omar, President Hadi selected “honest and competent” judges, the state news agency SABA reported.

The SCER will oversee Yemen’s next presidential election, scheduled for 2014.

The question of electoral reforms has been the subject of heated dispute among Yemen’s political parties since at least 2003 when parliamentary elections were last held.

Yemen’s ruling party, the General People’s Congress party (GPC) systematically rejected electoral reforms that would diminish its stranglehold on political power, the Parliament and other state apparatus. As a result the GPC and the opposition party alliance, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) have been politically deadlocked for years on the question of the SCER and other reforms.

It was Parliament’s inability to implement needed electoral reforms that gave rise to the perceived illegitimacy of government and mass demonstrations in 2011 and led in part ultimately the overthrow of Ali Abdullah Saleh, president since 1978 and head of the GPC.

In the run up to the 2006 presidential election, the opposition JMP suggested the SCER be split equally between GPC and JMP loyalists instead of selected by the President. The partisan division of the SCER was a method deployed following 1990’s unity of North and South Yemen. In a compromise, two additional members from the opposition were appointed to the SCER.

Saleh’s 2006 re-election was characterized by wide ranging irregularities. Saleh’s ruling GPC party signed an agreement to implement a range of electoral reforms if the JMP dropped its claims of electoral fraud. The GPC wanted to cement a veneer of legitimacy on Saleh. The JMP refocused on the 2009 parliamentary election and its goal of a proportional representation system.

The JMP advocated adopting the proportional or list method. The “first past the post” method in place gives advantage to the ruling GPC and established parties in general. In 2003’s parliamentary election, the GPC received 58 per cent of the vote and 238 seats. Candidates of JMP member party, Islah, won 22 per cent of the vote but only 46 seats. The GPC’s parliamentary seats increased from 123 in 1993, to 187 in 1997 and 238 in 2003. The participation of independent candidates and women candidates sharply dropped in each election.

The 2006 agreement on electoral reforms between the GPC and JMP was based on reports from impartial international observers and included redrawing the imbalanced electoral districts, redefining “domicile” to prevent the transfer of army units into opposition strongholds in order to sway the vote, and revising wildly inaccurate voter rolls.

However the GPC dominated parliament stalled and stonewalled the negotiations, prompting opposition JMP members to boycott parliament several times. Without a modicum of progress since 2006, Yemen’s 2009 parliamentary election was postponed until April 2011.

Yemen’s Youth Revolution began in January 2011 and called for the overthrow and trial of Yemen’s long ruling military dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh and his entire regime. The protesters rejected both the opposition and ruling parties as corrupt, ineffective and anti-democratic. For months the United States maintained support for Saleh despite atrocities committed against protesters by state security forces. The US had invested over $300 million in Yemen’s counter-terror forces since 2006 and had little contact with political forces outside Saleh’s family and circle of elites.

In April 2011, Parliament voted itself more time in office, again delaying elections in order to “give political parties a chance to develop the political and democratic system, reshape the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum, and finalize discussions over related issues,” the Yemen Post reported.

By November 2011, ongoing nationwide protests forced Saleh from power under a transition plan devised by the United States and Saudi Arabia under the auspices of the United Nations (UN) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Known as the GCC plan and endorsed by the UN Security Council, the transfer of power in Yemen was based on a guarantee of immunity for Saleh and his cronies. The GCC plan left the ruling regime and its military assets largely intact. Saleh retained his financial assets, thought to be well in excess of $10 billion.

Saleh’s Vice President Abdo Mansour Hadi was nominated as a consensus candidate by both the ruling GPC and opposition JMP. Hadi was the sole candidate in a February 2012 presidential “election” that saw a 65% turn-out.

The electoral reforms stalled since 2006 were not an issue during the 2012 presidential election, as the winner was pre-determined, but any unresolved issues certainly will come into play in 2014 when President Hadi’s term expires.

By dividing the interim government between Saleh’s GPC party and the JMP, the transition plan artificially empowered Yemen’s opposition parties, especially the Islamic Reform Party, Islah which dominates the JMP.

A report detailing President Hadi’s 220 new appointments alleges they were selected based on party affiliation and political loyalty, not merit, competence or ability.

Saleh remains active in Yemeni politics as head of the GPC party. Saleh is also thought responsible for militias and terrorists who are undermining the Yemeni security with violence directed against persons and infrastructure.

Mass protests continue in Yemen calling for the ouster of Saleh’s relatives and loyalists who remain as military commanders and in other high ranking positions. Other demands include overturning the immunity deal, and trying Saleh for mass corruption, and the deaths of protesters during the revolution and for war crimes prior to 2011.

Hadi’s government is gearing up to hold a national dialog in November, bringing in disenfranchised groups including southern secessionists and northern rebels.

Resonate Yemen’s election report

Filed under: Civil Society, Elections, reports — by Jane Novak at 8:26 am on Monday, March 12, 2012

NGO Resonate Yemen has issued their report on the 2012 presidential election in Yemen. It is available here at their website.

SM leader: Saleh takes profits directly from YMC, moderate SM rejects al Beidh’s Iranian nexus, wants to participate in reconstruction

Filed under: Abyan, Aden, Elections, GPC, Interviews, Iran, Islamic Imirate, Post Saleh, South Yemen, Transition — by Jane Novak at 6:54 pm on Sunday, March 11, 2012

Update: As expected howls of dissent from southerners: the new leader is someone else, I hesitate to even write the name as bad things happen sometimes to emerging leaders, Nakhbi now is an Islah operative they say and there are no, repeat no, connections to Iran. But al Beidh has been talking about Iran for a long time, when he even bothers to talk at all, and I think its quite possible. For a run down on Aden TV and all Yemen private broadcasting, see this listing of who owns what at the Yemen Times.

Original: Bingo! I also do not agree with what is happening between al Beidh and Iran. The violence during the election boycott was an entirely new phenomenon which broke with the years long non-violence of the southern movement. As al Nakhbi says, it was likely due to Iranian influence through the al Beidh wing of the SM. Keep in mind Yemen Fox is affiliated with Ali Mohsen, who has his own motives for undermining the SM. But if this is an authentic interview, then that’s what it is.

While there’s noticeably a lot fewer al Beidh photos during the southern protests, its unclear the extent to which awareness of the alliance between al Beidh and Iran has filtered down to the street, although he himself has been threatening the west with Iran for years. General Nuba issued a warning to world about the danger of Iran’s growing influence in the south a few months ago. Many external former leaders are in favor of federalism as expressed at the Cairo conference. I think there’s a few more factions than the two broad ones described.

Al Nakhbi also remarks that the several corporation including the mega Yemeni Economic Military Corp remits its profits directly to Saleh. He notes elite support of al Qaeda and the symbiotic relationship between the including the recent massacre in Abyan. He concludes that Saleh must be excluded from politics. (Actually it necessary to fully depose the Saleh regime in order to integrate the Houthis as well as the southerners.) Its an interesting interview, worth a read:

Yemen Fox: Brigadier General Abdullah al-Nakhbi- Secretary-General of Southern Movement (SM) – said that many politicians believe that who stand behind recent terrorist attacks are remnants of the former regime and that Ali Abdullah Saleh has turned from president of republic to president of terrorism. Priorities of Yemenis whether in National Reconciliation Government or Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) in coordination with Gulf States and Europeans are to dismiss Ali Abdullah Saleh from practicing political action.

Nakhbi added in an interview with “Yemen Fox” that al-Qaeda is supported by Ali Abdullah Saleh, his aides and remnants of his regime, pointing out that supervisors of GCC Initiative should put pressure to implement the second term of the Initiative which is to restructure the army and Republican Guards within Ministry of Defense and Central Security within Ministry of Interior.

Interviewed with Hashem al-Toromah

Yemen Fox: How do you see Yemen after presidential elections?
Nakhbi: after presidential elections, we as Yemenis stand at change door. The new President Abdu Rabo Mansur Hadi should have a courage to start change process. Change process should first prevent Ali Abdullah Saleh from practicing politics because recent events took place after swearing oath starting from Mukalla continuing to Bayda and now in Abyan Province. Many politicians believe that who stand behind that are remnants of the former regime and that Ali Abdullah Saleh has turned from president of republic to president of terrorism. (Read on …)

Saleh returns, new Yemeni president, suicide bombing in Hadramout

Filed under: Elections, Hadramout, Presidency, Transition, suicide attacks — by Jane Novak at 10:16 pm on Saturday, February 25, 2012

Barak Obama’s friend, the war criminal Ali Saleh departed the US and is back in Yemen. Saleh’s immunity is a central part of the US sponsored “transition” plan that followed a 48 million dollar, single candidate (sham) “election.”

Yemen’s first new president in 33 years, Abdo Mansour Hadi, previously Saleh’s Vice, was sworn in on Saturday. Hadi received 6.6 million votes of 10 million registered and two million eligible new voters. On election day, the electoral commission said 13 million votes were printed and they had run out of ballots during the day.

Also on Saturday, a suicide bomber in a slow moving pick-up truck killed 28 soldiers in Hadramout. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility via a text message to Reuters.

Link save: April 9, 2010, Yemen National Dialog Coalition Seeks Reform, Broad Political Inclusion

Three dead in South Yemen

Filed under: Elections, South Yemen — by Jane Novak at 11:07 am on Monday, February 20, 2012

Voting day updates:

Its over! Hadi wins in a landslide. Many people happy to be rid of Saleh. Inauguration Saturday Feb 25.

The first test of the new Yemeni government is how honestly they deal with today’s election; while much was good, even stellar, hiding, minimizing or outright lying about the hot spots isn’t going to encourage confidence.

This is very encouraging because it reflects reality instead of the normal knee jerk propaganda:

Egypt Ind Separatists who had vowed to mark Tuesday’s presidential vote as a day of “civil disobedience” have seized half of the polling booths in Yemen’s main southern city Aden, a government official said.

“Half of the polling booths in Aden have been shut down after they were seized by gunmen from the Southern Movement,” a local government official told AFP. He said the gunmen had closed 10 out of the city’s 20 voting stations.

Beeb Four soldiers killed in Hadramout, half voting centers closed in Aden. Nothing on the wounded people. Everything peachy in Sanaa.

Why we reject the elections by Noon

A few Houthis in Taiz but otherwise voting smooth, needed and got more ballots.

No confirmation or news updates on the foreign workers, must have been a rumor, the best possible outcome. OR something happened and everyone is fine.

Also report: “News confirm the filling of election boxes (by votes of those who didn’t vote) just before closing time at six o’clock in the evening in most of the election centers in the Governorates of Omran and Hajah..”

Voting in the South is not smooth, tension and clashes in Aden, Hadramout and Shabwa. One report injuries, shooting ongoing in Aden. Violence reported in Amran, Aden Taiz, Lahij, Mukalla and Shihr. Half polling stations closed in the south by one report. After five years, there is still no official southern spokesman to explain why there is a boycott, or what happened where, to the world in Arabic or English. There are people getting shot because of the boycott and there’s no statement.

The Houthis on the other hand are very good with statements:

In an attempt to pre-empt failure inevitable for the proportion of citizens’ participation in (the province of Saada and Harf Sufian and the provinces of argument and the cavity) has the authority to distribute the ballot boxes in areas outside their constituencies so that the distribution of funds in (Imran and incited, Sana’a and argument) on behalf of the circles (Saada).

We emphasize that polling stations are open and there is no interference from us towards those who want to vote and to exercise electoral commissions operate without any hindrance Remember, all that is said in some of the media tendentious is an attempt to justify the failure and cover the popular rejection of the real adjustments unilateral imposed on people by force and ignored the suffering and demands .

And began to crowd in (Saada) out of hours marched Tazahria mass to reflect the absolute rejection of this farce is the predetermined and practice of form, and confirmed its progress continued in the popular revolution, without regard to any attempts at misleading the people deterred from continuing the path of revolutionary even up to achieve the goals of the revolution and you will detail later.

The difference in perspective between people in Sanaa and Taiz where everyone is happy and the south and Saada is striking. Hopefully the election overcomes the schism enough to enable conversation instead of making it worse.
(Read on …)

Systematic fraud in voter registration in uncontested Yemeni presidential election?

Filed under: Aden, Elections — by Jane Novak at 6:25 pm on Sunday, February 19, 2012

This video purports to show SCER workers in Aden have issued several voter cards to the same individual voters as well as certified checks as payment for voting for Hadi. This kind of fraud was quite common in 2006 when registered male voters exceeded Yemeni men. Then the regime also redeployed army units to opposition strong holds as there are several definitions of domicile in the law.

(Update: I posted the video to the SCERs FB page and asked if it was true, and they deleted it, so I guess it is true. They didn’t deny it, explain it as a rogue worker, say they would investigate or call me a zionist, they just deleted it. Update 2: Some Yemenis are saying these are old voter cards from the 2006 election as southerners claim people have been trucked in to vote. )

While its absurd to buy votes in an uncontested election, the registration fraud in Aden is likely meant to undermine the southern boycott of the poll. Its unclear to me from the vid if these are new double registrations or if these are these duplicates from the last “free and fair” election. But they are current checks. With all the new donor cash floating around, there could be quite a high turn out in Aden on paper. With all the prior strong-arming of those who objected to the plan and the election, I doubt the US would discourage buying votes as long as the result looks good in the western media in time for the US presidential election.

The point of the bizarre 48 million dollar single-candidate election is to give constitutional legitimacy to Hadi by a public mandate, but the public overtly and continuously rejected the GCC blueprint which supersedes the constitution and all Yemeni law anyway.

I don’t think it has really sunk in yet to the pubic that GCC document is the law of the land for the next two years and cannot be challenged within Yemen. In the event of a failure of consensus, Hadi makes the final decisions. The plan creates a new dictatorship that is required to accept international supervision. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t widely published or discussed. It’s an international trusteeship, which might not be bad with the right administrators, but the UN and US embassy are trying to sneak it by the citizenry while calling it democracy.

Under the GCC plan, Southerners are invited to the upcoming national conference to discuss how to best accomplish a stable unified Yemen. A future referendum on unity is not an option. (But if the military restructuring is done prior to the enfranchisement of southern citizens, it will inflame passions and harden positions.) The causes of the Saada war will be explored. The new constitution will be written in three months (although the 1990 constitution before the later amendments isn’t so bad, it was just never enforced or interpreted and needs a bill of rights.) There will be some kind of justice for the protesters harmed in 2011. Those injured or killed before are unacknowledged and there’s no proposed remedy for them. Saleh and his regime got immunity and maybe the past war crimes and theft will all fade into smoke.Or else the US is creating another red line, another false reality and another source of tension to bubble on the streets until it explodes.

The framers of the GCC transitional document didn’t study the 2006 JMP National Reform Plan that was published after a year of rigorous discussions, compromise and work. The document reached agreement among the divergent parties on many vital issues including the south and Saada. It created structures for implementation. There were other important reform blueprints including the tribally based National Dialog Committee’s in 2009. The GCC document, now the highest law in Yemen, seems a hastily written, simplistic, non-Yemeni product designed to re-install the regime while convincing the protesters into returning home with a vague assurance of progress.

The US is seeking to replace the regime’s figurehead (temporarily) but not the regime. Saleh is welcome to return as head of the GPC, Feierstein says. Its so disturbing the mass murderer gets to return to the blood stained streets with total immunity and no one has any recourse.

The US ambassador has repeatedly trashed the Yemeni air force pilots (among many other groups) seeking the ouster of Mohammed Saleh al Ahmar, instead of taking this opportunity to push for his resignation. The Air Force is among the biggest financial black holes in the line item military budget. Yemen owes Russia six billion dollars, primarily for Air Force expenditures like MIGs, upgrading and repairing the MIGs and MIG parts, although most of the MIGs are off line. Where all the money actually went is an interesting question indeed. Russian will have a place in the internal political reconciliation process.

Brennan re-creating the Saleh dictatorship as a tactic in the battle against al Qaeda makes as much sense as Holder approving weapons shipments to Mexican drug cartels as a tactic in the battle against arms smuggling, and likely will be just as effective. However Saleh finally and officially dethroned, after 33 years and despite all the earlier US obstructionism, is quite an accomplishment for Yemenis.

(Read on …)

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