Thursday, 19 January 2012

  Preparations for  early elections in full swing despite obstacles 

By Nasser Arrabyee,19/01/2012

Next Monday January 23, the Members of Yemeni Parliament from both opposition and ruling party will vote for a controversial  immunity law after it was amended to make the protection from prosecution for specific leaders from opposition and ruling party including President Ali Abdullah  Saleh, according to sources from both sides.

The would-be immunity law is considered to be the essence of internationally and regionally supported deal signed by the Yemeni conflicting parties in Saudi capital Riyadh last November.

On February 21st, 2012, a new president for Yemen will be elected in an early election agreed upon by all conflicting parties to end the one-year long political crisis. 

Preparations for the February elections are in full swing despite the fact that the two conflicting parties (opposition and ruling) are required to nominate only the current vice president Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, as the candidate of  consensus, according to the deal and its implementation plan.

About 100,000 soldiers are expected to protect the process of early elections.

However, this election may be delayed if the opposition-chaired  unity government can not stop the armed conflicts that broke out over the last few weeks in different areas of the country where government is  almost absent.

The most dangerous  of these conflicts  is Al Qaeda occupation of a new city in the south-east of the country. 

And the second most dangerous is the war between Al Houthi Shiite fighters and the Sunni Salafi fighters  in the north of the country at the border of Saudi Arabia. 

Tens of people from both sides were killed and injured so far over the last  few weeks.

For Al Qaeda, at mid night of Saturday,January 14, 2012, hundreds of  Islamic extremists in connection with Al Qaeda occupied parts of the city of Rada'a , in a step that showed the strength of these fighters and weakness of the authorities.

They occupied first a historic mosque, Al Amerya, and a castle overlooking it before they stormed the central prison in the heart of the city and let  52 prisoners go out. 

The leader of the group is an Islamic and tribal leader called Tarek Ahmed Nasser Al Dhahab, the brother in law of the Yemeni-American extremist cleric Anwar Al Awlaki who was killed by an American drone with three others on September 30, 2011, in the eastern province of Al Jawf. 

In a video recording by  Al Dhahab on Wednesday January 18, he said that the  first step of establishing what he called Islamic Caliphate has started from his area in Radaa.

Tribal leaders from Al Dhahab tribe, Kaifa, reduced the threats of the man saying he would quit fighting if his brother, Khaled, is released,
Khaled Al Dhahab was arrested in Syria and was handed over to the Yemeni government about four months ago. And he is still in prison of the Political Security,intelligence.
"On Wednesday, the government promised to release Khaled Al Dhahab but they want three men from the tribe to be put in prison as a guarantee that he would not stop violence and his brother Tarik  would withdraw from the places he is controlling," Sheikh Zaid Yahya Al Riymi from Kaifa tribe and who is involved in the tribal mediation.

" The situation is very difficult,but we are optimistic to find a solution and save blood," said Al Riyami.

The deputy minister of interior, Mohammed Al Kawsi, said Tuesday the city of Rada'a  is surrounded by the security forces but they will wait until suitable decision is taken by the military and security committee chaired by vice president. 

Earlier in the day, Al Qaeda fighters kidnapped 11 soldiers from a check point at the outskirt of Rada'a city where one of Al Qaeda fighters was killed.

The House of Representatives was unable to do anything over these developments  as  it was waiting for the government to come back from their first visit to the Gulf countries where they went to seek economic and political support.

The opposition prime minister, Mohammed Salem Basondaw and   8 ministers  returned to Sanaa on Tuesday January 17.

Last week, the opposition-chaired unity government approved a law draft that would  grant president Ali Abdullah Saleh and some opposition leaders who were ruling with him  one day during the 33-year  rule,  immunity from prosecution.

The most important opposition leaders who are expected to  be included in the immunity law are those who led the anti-Saleh protests during 2011, after they were essential partners with Saleh.

The defected general Ali Muhsen, and the extremist cleric, Abdul Majeed  Al Zandani, who is wanted for US and UN for terror charges, are both among those who need immunity.  

Sources close to the opposition say  the opposition figures who need  immunity are 16 politicians.

One of them also is the  Islamic and tribal  leader, the billionaire Hamid  Al Ahmar, who is accused of orchestrating and mainly funding the anti- Saleh  revolution, 

 The immunity from prosecution for the leaders of the conflicting parties is the essential part of a Saudi-led and internationally supported gulf deal for peaceful transfer of power.

The deal and immunity are both refused by the protesters in the streets, although their leaders signed the deal in November 23, 2011,and approved the immunity law earlier this month.

The UN envoy, Jamal Bin Omar arrived in Yemen last week to help and push  the conflicting parties to continue implementation of the GCC deal according to its step-by-step and scheduled plan of implementation. 


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