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Backgrounder: Major political forces in Yemen

11-24-2011 08:58 BJT Special Report:Yemen’s Saleh Signs Power Transfer Deal |

SANAA, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- When North and South Yemen reunified in 1990, Yemen became a democratic republic enjoying political pluralism. At the beginning, about 60 parties were formed and the number decreased to 23 officially recognized parties in 2003. Most of these parties have no representation in the parliament.

Here are the major political forces: the General People's Congress (GPC), the ruling party, and the Joint Meeting Parties ( JMP), the main opposition bloc that includes seven parties.

The GPC was founded in August 1982 by President Ali Abdullah Saleh based on the ideology of the 1962 revolution. It was founded according to the real Yemeni cultural, intellectual and organizational needs and is seen as one of the important parties with Arabism and moderate Islam trends.

The GPC continued to be the only party till 1990. Other parties in north Yemen remained under its umbrella or practiced their activities secretly because the GPC banned political activities.

Most of the JMP parties were within the GPC till 1990 when the north and the south reunified. The GPC has the majority in the Yemeni House of Representatives with 229 members according to the 2003 elections. With the goal of ensuring the participation of the parties in the parliament, the JMP was formed on Feb. 6, 2003.

The JMP included the main opposition parties in the country, including those which remained under the GPC till 1990.

The principal agreement of the JMP called for serving the main goal of the bloc, increasing their representation in the parliament, and banning competition among these parties and coordination with other parties.

The JMP included seven parties: the Yemeni Congregation of Reform Party; the Yemeni Socialist Party; the Nasserite Unionist People's Organization; the National Arab Socialist Baath Party; the Haq Party; the September Congregation Party; and the Popular Forces Union Party.

The Yemeni Congregation of Reform Party (Islah Party) was recognized on Sept. 13, 1990. It became an opposition party in May 1997.

In the first parliamentary elections after the unity, this party won 64 seats, in the 1997 elections 53 seats and in the 2003 elections 46 seats out of 301, the total seats of the parliament.

The second important party within the JMP is the Yemeni Socialist Party, which was founded in 1978 in South Yemen. Several deadly events took place in the south that badly weakened its organizational and internal structure as well as its popularity.

In 1990, it was a partner in the reunification of the north and the south. After the civil war in 1994, this party lost its popularity due to some reasons including the separation war and ideology that conflicted with the culture and religious fanaticism of the Yemeni society.

It participated in the 1993 elections and won 56 seats, boycotted the 1997 elections, and resumed its participation in the 2003 elections and got seven seats.

The third main party within the JMP is the Nasserite Unionist People's Organization, founded in 1965.

With an Islamic ideology, the party dates back to 1952 when the Arab revolution against colonialism started in Egypt. The " Nasserite" in its name refers to Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian president who founded the Arab Nasserite movement.

This party continued to expand and exist despite that political activities were banned in south and north Yemen before the unity. It was the first party to be officially recognized as an opposition party in 1989.

It struggles to deepen democracy, build a new civil Yemen, achieve social justice and defend the Yemeni unity within the path of achieving an Arab unity. In the 1993 elections it won a single seat, and in the 1997 elections three seats.

Another main party in Yemen is the Arab Socialist Baath Party, which dates back to the 1950s. Its ideology is a combination of socialism and Arabism. In 1972, the party divided into two groups: the Baath Party and the Popular Front.

The Baath Party then held two names: the Arab Socialist Baath Party of Iraq and the National Arab Socialist Party of Syria. The first is now an ally of the GPC and the second is one of the JMP components.

In the 1993 elections it won seven seats, and in the 1997 elections two seats.

Other parties have no major ideological and organizational differences as they struggle to exist and be active in the political landscape in Yemen.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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