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Yemen is to hold its delayed parliamentary poll in April 2011 with or without an opposition boycott over an amendment to the electoral law, President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s ruling party announced. The General People’s Congress (GPC) insisted the election would go ahead in April 2011, coinciding with the end of a period for dialogue on reform, to avoid a “constitutional void” it said is sought by the opposition.

 

Earlier in the weak, the GPC-dominated parliament’s approval of the electoral law amendment about the make-up of the electoral commission, sparked an opposition sit-in and charges that the GPC had violated a 2009 accord to open dialogue on political reforms.

 

The opposition said that by passing the amendment unilaterally, Saleh’s allies had “put an end to the national dialogue”.

 

The mandate of the current parliament was extended by two years to April 2011 following the February 2009 agreement between the GPC and opposition parties to allow dialogue on political reforms.

 

The opposition, which includes the Islamist Al Islah (Reform) Party, the Yemeni Socialist Party and other smaller factions, said the passing of the amendment marks “a conspiracy” against the 2009 accord.

 

December 15, 2010

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

The two-year delay in holding the elections do no appear to have resolved long-term differences between the regime and the opposition. The opposition, much of who with strong support in the South, were calling for changing the presidential system to proportional representation and other electoral reforms aimed at engaging more Yemenis in participating in government.

 

The recent moves by the regime will heighten tensions with the opposition and is likely to lead to demonstrations and civil unrest. With the regime increasingly under pressure from fighting in the south and embarrsement that US forces are fighting along side Yemeni soldiers against Al Qaeda as a result of the Wikileaks cable, will further compromise the government’s position and will likely lead to further political unrest, as well as the civil unrest that has plagued the country for many months.