Yemen - Government

The 1970 YAR constitution affirmed Islamic law as the basis of all legislation and established the unicameral Consultative Assembly as the supreme legislative body. The assembly was authorized to name the president and to appoint the ruling Executive Council. In the first national elections, held in 1971, voters selected 119 members of the Consultative Assembly; the president appointed the forty remaining members. This body was dissolved in 1974, and in 1978, the Constituent People's Assembly replaced it, with 99 members elected and 60 members appointed by the president for a 2-year term.

In the General People's Congress (GPC), created in 1982, 700 of the 1,000 members were elected, with the other 300 appointed by the government. Between meetings (held every two years), the GPC's affairs were to be handled by a seventy-five-member standing committee. The president, elected by the Constituent People's Assembly for a five-year term, served as secretary-general of the GPC and commander-in-chief of the armed forces and appointed the prime minister and a ministerial council.

The 1970 constitution of the PDRY was ratified by the general command of the United Political Organization–National Front, which later became the Yemen Socialist Party (YSP). The Supreme People's Council, which had 111 members elected by universal suffrage at age eighteen, enacted laws; elected a Presidium and its chairman, who served as head of state; and chose the prime minister and the Council of Ministers. The YSP apparatus and the organs of government were closely intertwined.

The 1990 unity constitution established a political system based on free, multiparty elections. During the transitional period a presidential council was created with five members, three from the North and two from the South, to oversee executive operations. The council appointed a prime minister who picked a thirty-eight-member cabinet. A 301-member parliament was also formed, with 159 members chosen from the North, 111 from the South, and thirty-one at large. Constitutional amendments in 1994 eliminated the presidential council, and provided that the president would be elected by popular vote from at least 2 candidates selected by the legislature. In 1999, Yemen held its first direct presidential elections.

Legislative elections were again held in 1993, with the GPC maintaining its majority (124 seats). Islaah won sixty-one seats and the YSP took fifty-five. Independent candidates won forty-seven and members of the country's dozens of other political/tribal parties took thirteen seats. Following the 1994 civil war, the GPC and Islaah formed a unity government. The next parliamentary elections were in April 1997. The GPC maintained its dominance taking 187 of 299 seats. The YSP, the only substantial opposition since the GPC and Islaah joined forces, boycotted the elections, which they said were being managed by the GPC leadership.

On 20 February 2001, new constitutional amendments extended the presidential term of office from 5 to 7 years, and extended the parliamentary term of office to 6 years. The president may now serve a maximum of two 7-year terms. A bicameral legislature was created, consisting of an upper house, the Consultative Council or Shura Council, with 111 seats appointed by the president; and a House of Representatives composed of 301 members elected by popular vote. The next presidential elections were slated for 2006, and legislative elections were scheduled for 27 April 2003. Suffrage is universal at 18.

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