Yemeni opposition threatens elections boycott over polls supervision

Yemeni opposition politicians Saturday threatened to boycott presidential elections unless changes are made to the commission overseeing the polls.

Members of the six-party opposition grouping al-Liqaa al-Mushtarak say the election commission is biased toward the ruling General People's Congress Party and want an impartial body to oversee polling, spokesman Mohammed Qahtan told reporters.

The group also called for the constitution to be changed to reduce the concentration of political power in the president.

Elections are slated for September 2006, but President Ali Abdullah Saleh said last summer that he would not run to allow a new generation to govern. He has ruled Yemen for 28-years.

Parliament, dominated by the General People's Congress Party with 239 of 301 seats, votes for the seven member elections commission.

Parties belonging to the al-Liqaa al-Mushtarak have 60 seats in parliament, independents have the remaining two.

Spokesman for the ruling General People's Congress Party, Tareq el-Shami, denied that the electoral commission was biased toward his party, and said it operates according to Yemeni law.

"They are only trying to provoke the people," el-Shami told The Associated Press commenting on the al-Liqaa al-Mushtarak's claim that the commission is biased.

Yemen supports the United States' war on terror and waged a domestic crackdown on militants, reports AP.

O.Ch.