Freedom in the World
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Yemen’s political rights rating declined from 5 to 6 and its status from Partly Free to Not Free due to the two-year postponement of parliamentary elections, the renewal of fighting between central authorities and al-Houthi rebels in the north, and an escalation in violence between the government and opposition groups in the south.
Parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2009 were postponed by two years in February, after opposition parties threatened a boycott to protest anticipated electoral manipulation by the government. In August, government forces and Houthi rebels in the northern province of Saada renewed fighting in a five-year-old civil conflict. The violence escalated in November, when Saudi Arabia began bombing Houthi positions inside Yemen in response to rebel attacks on Saudi military personnel near the border. Also during the year, oppositionists and secessionists in southern Yemen continued public protests against their political marginalization, and dozens of people were killed in clashes between the demonstrators and security forces. Militants associated with Al-Qaeda carried out several attacks in 2009, including assaults on South Korean tourists and officials.
Yemen also continued to suffer in 2009 from terrorist violence associated with Al-Qaeda. In March, a suicide bombing killed four South Korean tourists in the southeastern town of Shibam. A second attack struck a convoy of South Korean officials sent to investigate the deaths. Also in March, four policemen were killed in a gun battle with Islamist militants in Jaar.
Yemen is not an electoral democracy. The political system is dominated by the ruling GPC party, and there are few limits on the authority of the executive branch. President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been serving continuously since 1978, when he became president of North Yemen in a military coup.