Sunday, 31 October 2010

Yemen seen refusing opposition poll delay request

Source: Reuters, 01/11/2010

SANAA - Yemen's ruling party said on Sunday it would contest a parliamentary election scheduled for April 2011, dashing opposition hopes the government may delay the poll to allow more time for talks on long-promised reforms.

Originally due in 2009, the poll was already delayed once after the government agreed to institute electoral reforms, but the opposition says no such changes have materialized.

"It is necessary that we finally assume our legal and constitutional responsibilities in governing the country and running the elections on time," the General People's Congress affiliated parties said in a statement.

Earlier this year, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who came to power more than 30 years ago, launched an unprecedented charm offensive to woo opponents which analysts and his opponents saw as an effort to relieve Western pressure on his government.

In May, he initiated a political dialogue with the opposition, agreeing for the first time to include his fiercest foes -- the northern rebels and southern separatists -- in talks alongside other opposition groups.

Impoverished Yemen, neighbor to top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, has come under international pressure to quell domestic conflict and focus on fighting a resurgent regional al Qaeda wing believed to be behind this week's parcel bomb plot.

Two air-freight packages containing bombs -- both sent from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago -- were intercepted in Britain and Dubai, sparking an international security alert.

Another attempt for dialogue initiated by Yemen's opposition last year fell flat. Both sides accused each other of undermining the process in a country where declining oil income has undermined efforts to tackle poverty, unemployment and failing water resources.

(Reporting by Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari, writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; editing by Myra MacDonald)

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