Yemen Socialist Party

Fourth General Congress, August 2000

Concluding statement, resolutions and recommendations

WITH the slogan "Towards national reconciliation, the building of the modem Yemeni state, and the realisation of democracy and social justice," the Yemeni Socialist Party opened the first meeting of its Fourth General Congress (Second Session) in the hall of the Military Academy in the capital, Sana’a, on the morning of August 30, 2000. It was attended by the representatives of political parties and organisations, by numerous leaders of civil society organisations, and by a large gathering of the country’s prominent political and social personalities. Representatives of the Arab and foreign diplomatic corps, journalists and correspondents of news agencies, and nearly 2,500 men and women delegates representing all organisations of the Yemeni Socialist Party were in attendance.

The meeting opened with a recitation of the Holy Quran followed by the national and party anthems. The preparatory committee then presented a brief report on the composition of the delegates and the number in attendance, thereby affirming the legitimacy of the meeting and the beginning of its work.

The Secretary General of the party Ali Saleh Obad "Muqbil" followed by delivering an important address concerning developments in the party’s internal organisational life. The address also dealt with developments in domestic political, economic, and social life, as well as with regional and international changes and the party’s position towards them.

Speeches in the name of the General Peoples’ Congress, the Yemeni Reform Congregation, Sons of the Yemen League (RAI), and the Higher Co-ordination Council of the Opposition Parties were also delivered. Members attending the opening session of the Congress heard greetings sent to the Congress by Shaikh Abdulla bin Hussein Al-Ahmar, Chairman of Parliament and President of the Yemeni Reform Congregation.

After these greetings the Congress continued its working sessions.. These began with the adoption of its agenda and the reading of numerous cables of greetings and support from political personalities and parties, national organisations, leaders, cadres, and supporters of the Yemeni Socialist Party abroad. Among the letters and cables of greeting to which the Congress listened were ones from President Ali Nasser Muhammad, Mujahed Alquhali, General Secretary of the Rectification Gathering, and Dr. Rifa’t Alsaeed, General Secretary of the Egyptian Unity Gathering of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

The draft General Report submitted by the Central Committee was read to the Congress. It included an analytical review of developments related to organisational, national, political, economic and social conditions, as well as to regional and international changes that occurred during the period between the two sessions of the Fourth General Congress. The report concentrated on the future tasks before the party.

Specialised committees were constituted from among the delegates to the Congress to consider the draft of the General Report, the Report of the Control and Inspection Committee, and the draft of the Concluding Statement, Resolutions, and Recommendations. Delegates were invited to express their views about these documents and submit them to the Congress.

The Congress members also accomplished the major task for which the Second Session of the Fourth General Congress was convened --the election of a new party leadership embodying, in internal party life, the fundamentals of democratic practice. This is part of a general democratic course to which the Yemeni Socialist Party is committed.

In the open meeting attended by concerned party members, journalists, and representatives of the European Union, delegates elected members of the new leadership bodies based on the internal regulations and directives of the Central Committee. Attention was paid to the national and social composition of the party and to the application of the fundamentals of democratic practice based on free competition and equal opportunity. In light of the Congress’s resolution concerning the composition of the Central Committee, 301 members were assigned to one of two lists. The first list included one third of the members directly elected by the congresses of the party organisations in the governorates, as well as members of the Central Committee who are abroad. The latter were seconded by the General Congress through direct and public voting due to the oppressive obstacles that prevented those abroad from participating in the Congress and pursuing their natural lives in their country. The General Congress elected candidates from the second list by direct secret ballot; they constitute two thirds of the new Central Committee.

In this context, the Congress highly appreciates the spirit of individual and collective responsibility displayed by the delegates and their care in exercising their democratic rights -- demonstrating the linkages among the procedural fundamentals ensuring honest elections, multiple options, and equal opportunities.

Undoubtedly, the results obtained by our party at the two sessions of its Fourth General Congress have clearly expressed the party’s ability to regain its health and unity. The party remains determined to rise once again, to demonstrate its serious desire for change, to be open to others, to exercise transparency, to admit errors publicly, to be courageous in exercising self-criticism, to make corrections, and to tackle any erroneous policies or practices.

Although the Congress values the positive results and successes realised by the party congresses and meetings during the primary electoral cycle carried out by organisations, centres, districts, and governorates, it draws attention to some negative aspects that accompanied these gatherings. These include the failure of some members and delegates to: demand settlement of dues, meet party obligations, attend the congresses and meetings, and hold congresses and meetings during their appointed dates. Negative aspects also include the weakness of some documents presented to the congresses and meetings; the weakness of some discussions during meetings and congresses; and the fact that some organisations resorted to methods of conciliation and public voting instead of carrying out direct secret elections. Some organisations superseded the predetermined number of delegates or the number of names on the national list, and the party did not take advantage of the congresses and expanded meetings to organise marches and popular festivals as a means of deepening connections to the people. These are shortcomings and problems that must be overcome in the future.

The Congress considers the success of the Second Session of the Fourth General Congress of our party a product of the efforts and struggles of its members over the past six years. They were not deterred by acts of suppression and harassment, by arrests, or by frustrations with security or with living conditions. In this regard, the Congress records for history its gratitude and appreciation to all those men and women who battled to rebuild party organisations and to construct its edifice anew in silence, with devotion, and through acts of self-denial. These people declared their commitment to the Yemeni Socialist Party before the dust of war had dispersed. They expressed their pride in being affiliated with the party and their confidence in its intellectual and political choices. The Congress also salutes that group of party and independent intellectuals and politicians who expressed their solidarity with the party during its ordeals. It salutes those writers and journalists who brought out the weapons of pen and intellect in confronting the power of arms. They defended the Yemeni Socialist Party and its right to exist despite the hardships they had to face. The Congress also wishes to register its thanks and gratitude to all brotherly and friendly parties, personalities, and international organisations that are concerned with democracy and human rights; they continuously expressed solidarity with the Yemeni Socialist Party during its travails following the summer 1994 war.

With great respect the Congress stands before the memory of that group of the party’s martyrs assassinated by the hands of terrorists. These people paid the price in blood for their belief in the justness of the party’s struggle and their trust in its political course. In recognition of their virtues we bow our heads in respect and appreciation for their sacrifices and we take pride in their great roles. We honour the memory of the following glorious martyrs: Barjjash and Bin Hammam from Hadhramaut, Muhammad Aziz abu Nashtan, Abdulhabib Alqaseer, and Muhammad Muhammad Dhaifulla Alodaini from Sana’a governorate, Ali Jameel from Amran governorate, Muhammad Ahmad Alzubair from Raimah, Abmad Abdulla Ahmad, Ghassan Kassem Mana’, Ahmad Muhammad Nasser, Adel Abdulla Mana’, Muhammad Thabet Aizubaidi, Muhammad Ali Alharrab, Ali Muhammad Ali alhood and Ghassan Abdulla Abdul-latif from Dhala’ governorate, Muhammad Musleh Salem Shaker, Mahdi Abdo Alsalimi and Kassem Ali Mabdi Atyef from Dhamar governorate -- and other martyrs. The Congress demands that those responsible for the assassinations be made accountable, that they be referred to the judiciary, and that the families of victims receive compensation

The Congress also salutes those honest militants and innocent citizens who were subjected to oppression and remained steadfast in prisons and detention centres. They bore the pains of physical and psychological torture. The Congress also extends condolences to the citizens whose houses were destroyed in Almarsaba, Alkarb, Aiqafla and Aljaleela villages (Dhala governorate), in Saeed village (Albaydha), in Quradha Uzla (Taiz) and in villages in Mareb, al-Jawf, and other governorates.

Although the Congress condemns all acts of violence and terror whatever their source, it welcomes the peaceful popular protests in the form of demonstrations and sit-ins that occurred in a number of governorates, particularly in Dhala, Hadhramout, Aden and Abyan.

The Congress expresses its concern over the deteriorating political, economic and social conditions prevailing in the country. It believes that the current conditions generate a bleak picture of the overall aspects of life in our country. Living standards have retreated to the lowest levels, work opportunities have declined and consequently the number of unemployed has increased so that the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the world, which affects all segments of society --including university graduates. The state’s policies contribute directly to aggravating the unemployment crisis, especially with the adoption of privatisation measures that have caused a vast number of those working in the public sector to lose their jobs. The service sectors, especially education, health, electricity, and water have increasingly witnessed deterioration. The environment is being destroyed routinely. At the same time corruption spreads without cessation, and all promises to combat it remain unfulfilled. This is one of the factors that hinders security whose absence is made manifest through acts of blood-feuds, fighting over residences and pastures, kidnappings, banditry, and the forcible seizure of property.

These conditions, along with political instability, have created climates that are not conducive to growth and economic development. Indeed, these factors only discourage competence, tourism, and local and foreign investment.

These conditions occur at a time when population growth increases and primary resources decrease in the country --particularly oil and water whose depletion will lead to the loss of the means of subsistence in many parts of Yemen. These problems result from existing policies, which are based on secondary issues and on the fact that attention is focused on the various means to preserve power and to contain the opposition.

In the face of all this, the Congress calls upon the government once again to rectify its incorrect economic, financial, and service policies. It stresses that the resolution of problems in the country cannot be realised by militarising political life and confining the democratic margin, but by adopting effective policies based on the implementation of a comprehensive political, economic, administrative and financial reform program. Measures should focus primarily on a precise scientific study and the adoption of bold and responsible policies to combat corruption and constrict its higher circles. Responsible policies must apply the Constitution and other laws, respect the autonomy of the judiciary, provide security and ensure safety, restrict unnecessary government spending, halt unessential loans, generate conditions conducive to investment, create new job opportunities to confront unemployment, care for the poor and for those in limited income categories, and realise social justice by linking education to society’s needs and to the requirements of development. Prior to all of this, the government must pursue new policies based on domestic and foreign openings that ensure the rights of citizens by accepting the invitations to realise national reconciliation and remove all of the effects of the summer 1994 war. This is the means of reforming the course of unity and of mobilising all forces to build a modern Yemeni state devoted to the rule of law — a state based on the contents of the Pledge and Accord Document. Full attention must be paid to the great challenges facing the country as it enters the third millennium, a period which will witness increased domination of the rich North over the poor South in the name of globalisation. Globalisation enforces unequal cultural and economic relations and imposes conditions and obligations that Yemen cannot meet in its present situation -especially because the country has experienced a continual, consistent, and organised retreat from democratic life, the narrowing of public liberties, restrictions on the free founding of civil society organisations, and the harassment of party and civil journalists.

While the Congress welcomes the lifting of the ban on Al-Shoura newspaper — organ of the Popular Forces Union — it reiterates the call of the Yemeni Socialist Party to halt immediately and conclusively all law suits and harassment directed against newspapers, journalists, writers, and those in the creative arts.

The Congress considers that the proposed constitutional amendments represent a main station on a journey returning the country to conditions prevailing before the founding of the Republic of Yemen. With this understanding, the Congress calls upon all political parties and organisations and political and social persons to reject those amendments as they primarily aim at:

1. Nullifying the principle of electing the legislative body by having the appointed Shoura Council participate in the election process.

2. Violating what remains of the balance among state institutions by concentrating power in the hands of the executive authority

and by granting the President of the Republic the power to appoint the members of one of the two houses of parliament (the Shoura Council). The amendments also do not require that the dissolution of Parliament be subjected to a public referendum, which is required by the present Constitution. The amendments call for the appointment of the heads of the local councils of the governorates instead of their election as required by the present Constitution, and they grant the president the power to appoint the heads of the district local councils.

3. Revoking - for all practical purposes - the principle of public referenda by not subjecting the constitutional amendments or the dissolution of Par1iament to referenda.

4. Abolishing the social and cultural rights of the citizen - guaranteed by the current Constitution - by granting the government the right to impose fees on educational, health, and cultural services without recourse to the law.

The amendments thereby destroy what remains of the Yemeni Constitutions democratic principles and mechanisms, and the balance among state institutions is com p1etely undermined. Consequently, power is concentrated in the executive, which makes the Yemeni people subject to the regime’s tyranny and violates citizens’ human rights and political liberties.

In this regard, although the Congress calls for the rejection of these constitutional amendments, it demands political reform through constitutional reforms. Constitutional reforms can realise a balance among state bodies and can prevent coups by an ornamental democracy against genuine democracy. Such coups have been occurring since changes in the constitution were made easy after the summer 1994 war.

Because the constitution represents a social contract between the ruler and the citizen, changes or amendments affect everyone. It is not the right of any regime to make such decisions alone. Therefore the Congress welcomes the call of the brothers in the League of the Sons of Yemen to have all political activists meet to consider the proposed constitutional amendments and to demand that the authorities retract such amendments and carry out elections on time.

It seems that in the event that the constitutional amendments are passed, they will prepare the way for the enactment of more antidemocracy laws and measures. Despite developments that dash hopes - developments that are due to the government’s insistence on pursuing a course it devised after the summer 1994 war - the Congress calls upon the authorities to regard the facts. The regime should halt the policy of misguiding the people and it should accept unconditionally the calls for national reconciliation. The regime should make the bold decision to sit with its opponents (without exceptions) at the negotiating table.

The Congress emphasises that the call for national reconciliation does not mean parties divide public offices or distribute the country’s wealth and potentials as spoils; rather, it means taking Yemen out of the predicament of political and social violence. It means putting a decisive end to the tragic results of the recent war and all cycles of political violence that preceded it. This national reconciliation should be through rehabilitation, the return of rights, the prevention of military interference in civil affairs, the tackling of the problem of blood-feuds, and the application of law and order to all equally.

Within the context of determining the Yemeni Socialist Party’s methods and means of struggle, the Fourth General Congress confirms that the Yemeni Socialist Party does not have any other methods and means for realising its programmatic tasks except through firm commitment to the forms of peaceful and democratic political struggle. It rejects most decisively any other means related to violence, conspiracy, or efforts to eliminate others. The means on which the Yemeni Socialist Party relies are the concerted efforts to encourage participation in both general and local elections and in peaceful and democratic protest activity. Such activities include demonstrations, marches, sit-ins, expressions of opinion, the exercise of popular solidarity acts aimed at defending human rights, the application of constitutional and legal rights to citizens, and the realisation of citizens livelihoods and occupational interests.

This choice rests on a clear understanding that considers democracy based on party and political pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power an immediate outcome of Yemeni unity. Democracy must be practised comprehensively, not partially, and not with limited choices. The work to transform an ornamental democracy into a genuine one derives from practising it in reality and improving conditions, widening democracy’s circles of influence, and extending it to all areas of Yemen. There must be action to eliminate the effects of the summer 1994 war and the cycles of political violence. The files of the painful past must be closed. The problems from which several governorates of the Republic suffer, particularly the southern and eastern ones, must be tackled and solved. The violations related to the elections process must be reformed.

There must be an invitation to international and local observers to supervise the elections. The party must stress early preparation for the forthcoming local and general elections in order to build the modem Yemeni state.

The Congress urges party members and supporters to make our participation in the forthcoming elections an occasion to wage a relentless battle to improve the conditions of the election process, correct the electors’ lists, and provide the most transparency and equality in election proceedings. Members must urge those who have attained legal age to register and exercise their constitutional right. Participation in the forthcoming local elections is an opportunity to struggle to reform the provisions of the Local Authority Law, to raise the law to the level of the people’s aspirations for a genuine local government with extensive authority, and to eliminate the ways in which the law is inconsistent with constitutional provisions.

In this context the Congress calls upon the party’s various bodies and organisations for joint work with all political forces and parties to ensure free and honest elections. The Fourth General Congress of the party welcomes the invitation of the Yemeni Reform Congregation for dialogue and understanding about differences, and for co-ordination and co-operation concerning issues on which there is agreement. It also welcomes the constructive spirit that characterised the speech to the Congress of the General Secretary of the Yemeni Reform Congregation, Mr. Muhammad Al-Yadoomi, and the letter of Shaikh Abdulla bin Hussain Al-Abmad, President of the Yemeni Reform Congregation and Chairman of the Parliament. The party especially appreciates the call to the General Peoples Congress to turn a new page in party and political relations among the Yemeni Socialist Party, the General Peoples Congress and all other political forces and parties. There must be a departure from the atmosphere of the past with a view to a safe future. Differences are to be expressed by civilised political and media methods distanced from the language of accusation and the spirit of eliminating others. The government mass media should be employed to benefit the people and to unite the ranks of society. All of us must work to reject the politics of eliminating others and to accept the idea of a shared life and of equal rights. All issues over which we differ must be resolved through a dialogue without conditions.

There is no doubt that the brothers in the General Peoples Congress know that the realisation of such objectives depends upon the position of the General Peoples Congress before all else because of its material and moral influence and its grasp on the means of domination.

Regarding the land and sea border treaty between our country and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: the Congress believes that the common interest of the two countries and peoples lies in a safe and prosperous future. This requires the settlement of differences and the building of relations based on trust, mutual benefit and interests, and on equality during existing and forthcoming international transformations. At the same time, the Congress demands of the government that it has political parties participate in the discussion of issues concerning the country. The Congress also considers it necessary that the resolution of border issues with our neighbours be accompanied by a resolution of the crises from which the internal political situation suffers. Resolving these crises entails tackling the effects of the summer 1994 war, providing the appropriate climate for investment, and improving the living and security conditions of the people.

Concerning the current situation in the Middle East: the Congress reiterates the position of the Yemeni Socialist Party to support a just and comprehensive peace. This is not possible except by returning the occupied territories in Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights, by establishing a Palestinian state on Palestinian territory with Al-Kuds as its capital, by repatriating refugees to their land, and by ending settlement policies.

The Congress hails the great victory achieved by the Lebanese National Islamic Resistance in liberating southern Lebanon and regaining Lebanese sovereignty. In the same vein, the Congress articulates the position of the Yemeni Socialist Party by supporting brotherly Syria in its steadfastness and in its insistence on regaining the occupied Golan Heights.

The Congress also expresses the position of the Yemeni Socialist Party and its solidarity with the brotherly Iraqi people who are subjected to an unjust and destructive blockade. It calls upon the Arab and Islamic nations to halt this blockade and to reject the American and British attacks on Iraq. It also demands that the world community adopt firm humane positions to end this embargo and enable the people of Iraq to resume their natural and peaceful lives.

The Fourth General Congress of the Yemeni Socialist Party welcomes the national reconciliation steps in Somalia and the rebuilding of state institutions there. It also supports the efforts of the African Unity Organisation in working for peace and the return of friendly relations between the two neighbouring states of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The Fourth General Congress (Second Session) of the Yemeni Socialist Party also adopted the following resolutions and recommendations:

(1) On the draft documents submitted to the Congress:

The Congress adopts the draft documents submitted to it:

· The General Political Report.

· Report of the Control and Inspection Committee.

· The Concluding Statement, Resolutions and Recommendations.

These documents include comments about them, which were submitted by the committees formed by the Congress. The Congress charges the Central Committee and the Political Bureau to issue these reports in their final form and to circulate them among the party’s organisations. These materials should be used among party members at home and abroad --along with the party’s political program and internal regulations-- for the purposes of informing and educating members politically.

(2) Name of the Congress

The Congress approves naming its second session of the Fourth General Congress in memory of the great Yemeni poet, the late Abdulla alBaradoni. The Congress does so out of appreciation of, and gratitude for, his patriotic stands and creative literary works. They enriched Yemeni and Arab culture and literature, as well as thought more generally.

(3) On adopting the concerns and interests of citizens and defending them

The Congress urges all party primary organisations at the level of districts and governorates to make the concerns and problems of citizens in the geographical areas for which they are responsible of paramount importance. The Congress emphasises that members and supporters of the party become members of local charitable, voluntary, and solidarity organisations. They should also enlist in civil society’s other

organisations, such as creative and trade unions, sports and cultural clubs. Members and supporters should struggle to realise specific objectives and demands at the local and occupational levels. They should care about education, health, water, electricity services, the construction of roads, the expansion of telephone networks, etc. And they should act to revive the local co-operative bodies for development and the consumer co-operatives.

(4) On party dues

At a time when the Congress demands of the President of the Republic that the government and others return the seized property of the party, including funds, buildings, and documents, the Congress calls upon the members and supporters of the party to contribute to solving the financial crisis by paying and collecting dues regularly. Payment and collection of dues must be considered one of the fundamental conditions of membership. This matter acquires special importance in these difficult financial circumstances. Failure to collect dues threatens the party’s continued activity in the future. The Central Committee, the Political Bureau, the General Secretariat of the party organisations in the governorates, districts, and centres must tackle the issue of organisational dues effectively because such dues are the primary source on which the party relies to fund its various activities. The Congress urges party organisations in the governorates to strive to create resources that ensure the self-financing of the party’s various activities. Self-financing is accomplished by collecting dues from members regularly. A share of these dues must be paid to party headquarters as soon as possible. The Congress affirms the importance of making the issue of dues a constant topic on the agenda of all higher and lower party organisations. It charges the Central Committee, the Political Bureau, the General Secretariat, the Central and Local Control and Inspection committees to follow-up consistently with the implementation of this party task.

(5) On party management

The Congress affirms the importance of developing institutional work in the party and establishing a limited number of full-time party administrators. This administration should be composed of specialists and competent cadres. A special section must be established for contacting party members and organisations abroad to acquaint them consistently with current developments in the county and to benefit from their modern technologies.

(6) On the diversity of opinions

The Congress considers the appearance of diverse viewpoints about the party’s policies natural in the context of democratic transformations within the internal life of the party and in the context of current political, economic, and cultural developments taking place within society. That is why the internal regulations of the party give each member the right to express publicly his or her opinion.

For exemplary use and proper exercising of this right, the Congress charges the Central Committee, the Political Bureau, and the General Secretariat of the Party with organising legitimate party forums, which should be guided by internal directives or rules approved by competent leadership bodies. Such forums should transform those who have intellectual and political opinions and orientations into legitimate party groups acting openly to formulate party decisions naturally within party bodies. These legitimate party groups should influence the formulation of party decisions and develop the party’s perceptions and its fundamental documents.

(7) On amending documents

Building on the decisions of the Party Central Committee and the subsidiary congresses in some governorates, the Congress approves amending the Political Program and the Internal Regulations of the Fourth General Congress (First Session). Foremost among the Central Committee’s priorities are adherence to national reconciliation and rectifying the course of unity. The Congress calls upon the party’s members and organisations to submit their views and proposals concerning any other amendments to the Central Committee. The Congress charges the Central Committee, the Political Bureau, and the General Secretariat with the adoption of practical measures necessary for that.

(8) On preparations for the elections

The Congress emphasises the importance of the party’s preparation for, and participation in, the forthcoming general and local elections.

Participation in local elections does not mean acceptance of the present law. Rather, it means providing the conditions by which the legal texts and judgements reach the level of the people’s aspirations for a genuine local government with extensive powers.

(9) On the Co-ordination Council and work with others

The Congress underscores that the Yemeni Socialist Party, by benefiting from its past experiences, no longer has illusions that it is an only party working on behalf of others. The party must be interested in strengthening relations between it and other political and social forces.

The Congress notes that the Higher Co-ordination Council of the opposition parties and its branches in the governorates and districts constitute the genuine nucleus for a broader political and social alliance. The Co-ordination Council is also the natural entry point for creating an historic social bloc to accomplish all short- and long-term national and social tasks both locally and nationally.

The Party must co-ordinate its work with its partners in the Higher Co-ordination Council of the opposition parties and work with them to stimulate the Council’s activities and expand its ranks and mass base.

(10) The party’s external relations

The Congress stresses the importance of continuing to regain and consolidate the party’s external relations with political parties and organisations in brotherly Arab countries, and with friendly parties world-wide. We must take action to gain full membership in the Socialist International Bloc. There must be effective participation in the various political and intellectual activities to which the party is invited — and in a manner that strengthens the party’s relations with friends, realises benefits, and meets the interests of our country.