In an exclusive interview with CNN’s Mohammed Jamjoom, Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Mujawar said there would not be any Egypt-style protests in Yemen.
“Yemen is not Tunisia or Egypt,” Mujawar said. “Yemen has its own different situation… Yemen is a democratic country. Through all the stages, elections took place. And therefore this is a democratic regime.”
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM: Your Excellency, there are a growing number of people in Yemen who are calling either for outright revolution or for the president to step down. What’s the level of concern here that what’s been going on in Tunisia and Egypt could happen here in Yemen?
ALI MUJAWAR, YEMENI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): Yemen is not Tunisia or Egypt. Yemen has its own different situation. Yemen’s situation is totally different than the situation in Egypt or Tunisia, and every country has its own characteristics.
Yemen is a democratic country. Through all the stages, elections took place, and therefore this is a democratic regime.
It’s true that many of the blocs, specifically opposition blocs within the joint meeting parties are trying to duplicate what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and act as if it should be imposed on the people here in Yemen. The situation here is totally different, and it’s a democratic regime. And there have been numerous parliamentary elections, presidential elections and local government elections, and the president’s last initiative gives a strong push for the democratic process in the country.
JAMJOOM: Where do things stand now with the parliament? Has the opposition responded officially to the president’s initiative? And if they respond negatively, what’s the next step?
MUJAWAR: If they respond negatively, democratic life in Yemen will not stop. Democratic life in Yemen will continue because it does not rely only on the opposition of joint meeting parties. We have the people of Yemen, who want to see the implementation of their constitutional entitlements through parliamentary elections.
JAMJOOM: Is there a level of concern here that the more political turmoil there is, the more that a group like Al Qaeda could benefit from that?
MUJAWAR: Absolutely. Everything is possible. Honestly, everything is possible. Al Qaeda, those extremists who are in Yemen, found a suitable environment where there’s poverty and unemployment. By the way, they also take advantage of Yemen’s terrain, which is complex and difficult. It is mountainous and has widespread desert areas. They benefit from this environment and the terrain and spread. They are now spread in rural areas, and therefore the size of their attacks are not frequent, and they happen at specific times in the cities.