The Republic of Yemen: Pre- Election Preparations of Report of Delegation 25 January - 1 February 1993

Publication Date: 
28 Feb 1993

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INTRODUCTION

1. The unified Republic of Yemen was committed to holding democratic elections by 22nd November 1992, ie within thirty months of the formal date of unification. The Yemeni Government prepared the election law, the law governing parties, and appointed the Supreme Election Committee (SEC). Then, at the beginning of September 1992, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) was approached by the Government with a view to sending a delegation. At that time, with the election still planned for November, it was to be a pre-election assessment team with a relatively narrow brief.

2. By the end of October it was becoming apparent to the Government, and to the SEC, that the detailed preparations for the election could not adequately be completed in time and that the election would therefore have to be postponed. Initially a date in mid-February was chosen but shortly afterwards Tuesday, 27th April, was fixed. Clearly this changed the character and aims of the proposed delegation and a broader prospectus was agreed between ERS and Dr Abdulkarim AI Eryani, the Minister of Foreign Affairs:

         status and role of political parties;

         citizen education and training;

         role of the media;

         election official training;

         election observation.

3. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy agreed to share the costs of the delegation but it was clear that finance would only be available for a three person delegation. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) of Washington DC then agreed to share in the delegation and to fund two further members. The IFES portion of the delegation was funded by the US Agency for International Development. The eventual team comprised:

         Michael Meadowcroft (ERS) Former Parliamentarian;

         Keith Klein (IFES) Director of Programs, Africa and the Near East;

         Patrick Bradley (ERS) Chief Electoral Officer, Northern Ireland;

         Gillian Felvus (ERS) Conservative Agent;

         Dr Ronald Wolfe (IFES) Specialist in legal reform; arabic speaker.

The delegation was in Yemen from 26th January to 1st February and the two IFES members were able to stay for an extra day which proved to be very valuable for its work. There were no restrictions on the delegation and we were able to meet ministers, MPs, officials, parties, media representatives, and diplomats. We should have preferred to travel further afield from the capital, Sana'a, but in the event we only had time to visit Aden, Taiz and villages en route.

We were greeted everywhere by helpfulness and by generous hospitality. We wish to place on record our thanks to the many Yemenis who helped the delegation pack so much into a short time. In particular we appreciated the work of Abdelhameed M Nasser, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who facilitated the delegation's numerous appointments and travel arrangements.

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