I literally just got off of Skype with Farea al-Muslimi, the foremost scholar on Yemen at present, for an interview he agreed to do with Ramel. I wish I had seen this article so I could ask him his opinion about the fact that the Yemeni prime minister, Khaled Bahah, has asked people on Facebook to nominate ministers for his new cabinet. I know Farea is quoted as saying he supports openness, and that he supports the fact that Yemeni politicians are not hiding in times of crisis, but rather planning and coming forward. Obviously this idea has elicited different reactions. On November 1 Bahah asked his 33,000 followers to suggest names for the new national unity government. The response has been overwhelming with 13,000 comments. It has also prompted a debate about using social media as a democratic tool.
With thousands of names being recommended, many have praised the social media move. One comment said:
I believe you are the first PM in the world to ask people’s opinion when forming a technocratic government and this will enforce their trust in you because you included them in making the decision-making process.
Others think the idea is absurd, however. Many think he should have a vision already and this attempt to crowdsource is desperate. Another important fact is that there are less than 800,000 Yemenis on Facebook out of a total population of 24 million. This will be the first government to assume office after the recent crises in Yemen after fuel subsidies were lifted in August which led to the resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed Basindowa.