Interviewed by Ali Al-Dhubaibi
For The Yemen Post
Mohammed Abdul Elah Al-Qadhi, a well-known member of parliament who politically belongs to the General People Congress (GPC) and socially to President Saleh’s homeland, Sanhan, belongs to a family of Sheikhs and is known for his critical stances.
Ali Al-Dhubaibi: Let’s start from Taiz, a parliamentary committee of which you were a member was formed to make sure the arrest procedures against Parliament Member Ahmed Abbas Al-Burati were proper. The report presented by the committee viewed the measures to be improper, but Al-Burati was not released?
Mohammed Al-Qadhi: As you know, parliament received a letter from the Minister of Justice in which he informed the members about arresting our fellow Member of Parliament (MP) Ahmed Al-Burati. The letter is based on article 204 and it is not meant for notification, but rather a request to withdrawing immunity and this was not properly done by the minister. We dealt with this letter as a notification and a committee was formed to make sure the measures taken were proper. The committee headed to Taiz and met with the Governor, the Chief of the Province Security, Khadair’s Security Chief and the Prosecutor to find the facts. Our task was not to decide whether Al-Burati is a perpetrator, victim or partner, but rather to make sure that the taken measures against him were lawful. It has been clear that the measures were not proper as evidenced by the sayings of the governor and the security chief of Khadair. However, the prosecutor, who is supposed to be well-familiar with the case, refused to provide the minutes and documents that prove the legality of the taken measures. Acting on the constitutional capacity, we prepared the report and presented it to the MPs. Unfortunately, things were mixed up and this led the matter to develop into a crisis between the parliament and the judiciary.
AD: It seems the tension between the parliament and the judicial authorities has reached the highest level. Once the judiciary is involved in the issue, which party will make the disengagement?
MQ: What the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) announced last Saturday is a stark violation of the constitution. The problem, right from the very beginning, existed by the time the law of the judicial authority was issued. The Constitutional Court must be completely independent and so the SJC. There must be a disengagement law to prevent authority overlapping. In the Yemeni legislation, there is a big problem for we find that the SJC is both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court. As known, the structure of SJC involves executive authority represented by Justice Minister and judicial authority represented by the judges and the Attorney General. I think there must be amendments to the judicial authority law so that it can resolve the differences or problems arising between the three authorities.
AD: Over the last few days, there have been a lot of wronged people staging sit-ins before the parliament. Some of them asked for arresting perpetrators, does this mean that the state exists no more?
MQ: This is evidence for the weakness of the judiciary. If there is no independent and fair judiciary the problem will become worse. Such phenomena are a byproduct of the weakness of the judiciary. This applies very much to the larger problems and crises the country faces.
AD: What about the parliament, is it independent?
MQ: Sometimes MPs manage to impose themselves and sometimes things are being imposed on them. Parliament is not completely independent.
AD: Who imposes things on them?
MQ: More than one party. It has no freedom to act; only in a few cases.
AD: By the way, when serious reports; e.g. oil and gas issues, are being discussed, there occur divisions, not political but rather that of commercial interests?
MQ: We have experienced the issue of block 53 where it was clear that there had been legal and constitutional violations. The reaction of MPs was very good and it was the first success for us despite some challenges. It was truly hard to convince MPs. Later it came up with the issue of Hunt Oil Company and it was widely debated. Yemen was to lose $5 billion through allowing the company extra time. Thus, we won the case.
AD: This issue was of concern to President Saleh, as we heard. Following your committee’s success, were you rewarded?
MQ: As the committee’s reporter and deputy head, let me tell you that none contacted us and we did not receive a word of thanks.
AD: It has been recently noticed that your relations with the President are not good and you have also been attacked in GPC media outlets, have these relations deteriorated after they were restored?
MQ: No restoration took place and my relations with the president are historic; however, everyone has his own views about many issues. I do not agree on them too. So I am not favored by the presidency; being an MP and a member of the general committee of GPC, I impose myself in several occasions. I can tell you that there are no personal problems between us and there is no common interest. If such an interest exists, our relations would have been better.
AD: It has been said that some MPs within your committee and the parliament are granted the right of representation in agreements?
MQ: As far as I know, there is nobody. There might be such people in the parliament, but they never influence the committee’s decisions.
AD: Does your post, head of Shoura Council at the National Solidarity Council, affect your GPC post?
MQ: Perhaps the matter was very sensitive in the beginning; however, the case is not so now. The council has representatives from all parties and this could not be considered party dissent.
AD: A sixth war in Sa’ada is eminent; how do you see its repercussions?
MQ: From my point of view, it is catastrophic. If there had been a serious management of the problem in Saad’a, the matter should not have reached that limit. It started with five people and the whole province now turned to be volatile.
The same holds true about the south where it was just the issue of some people demanding some rights to lands and employment as well as pensioners. Now it covers the whole south Yemen. Once a right management exists, things will not be that much complex.
Yemen is undergoing a serious phase where it is necessary to act responsibly. Otherwise, we will not be able to overcome the problems.
AD: Can the parliament play a role?
MQ: Yes, it can. This requires meeting the respective people in the southern provinces and knowing the different reasons and later coming up with solutions to their problems. However, nobody could venture to do so because he will be accused of supporting the mobility and consequently the secession. Perhaps, some people want the scenario to continue in this direction.
AD: But some political powers started to recognize the south Issue (like Islah)…?
MQ: Even if they recognize it, the question remains did they present any initiative for solving the problem. In brief, when the head is healthy, the whole body will be so.