Sanaa: President Ali Abdullah Saleh has urged opposition parties to take part in Yemen`s parliamentary election in April and warned that a boycott would amount to "political suicide."
The April 27 election will take place "in the presence of international observers," said the president in a speech in the southern province of Hadramawt late yesterday.
"Those wishing to participate are welcome, and those who want to boycott have the right to do so. But they will be committing political suicide," he cautioned.
The president, who came under fire after parliament voted on Saturday to pass constitutional amendments which could see him rule for life, singled out the Islamist Al-Islah (Reform) party.
It was Yemen`s second-largest after his own General People`s Congress (GPC), said Saleh.
But he dismissed groups like the Unionist Nasserist Party and the Yemeni Socialist Party, which ruled a formerly independent South Yemen. The YSP was "finished in 1994" when northern troops crushed a southern secession bid, he said. Sultan al-Atwani, secretary general of the Nasserist Party said, "The opposition has not yet made a decision on its participation in the polls, but the actions of the ruling party are pushing us to consider a boycott."
The president, meanwhile, accused the opposition of trying to "cause chaos throughout the past four years." Those wanting to change the regime, "can simply head for the polls," he said.
On December 14, the GPC said the poll would go ahead in April regardless of any opposition boycott over the electoral law amendment.
The mandate of the current parliament was extended by two years to April 2011 under a February 2009 agreement between the GPC and opposition parties to allow dialogue on political reform.
The reforms on the table included a shift from a presidential regime to a proportional representation parliamentary system and further decentralisation of government -- measures that have not been implemented.
The dialogue has stalled, however, and a special committee set up to oversee reform has met only once.