Sana’a (Marchy 18, 2013)
NATIONAL DIALOGUE CONFERENCE IN YEMEN
The two-year structure of the roadmap for Yemen was delineated in the GCC Initiative and its Operational Mechanism. The initial step of the first phase was the formation of the Government of National Unity; followed by the conferring of presidential power to the existing Vice President. A Committee on Military Affairs was formed and finally, the acting president called for an interim election which was held on February 21, 2012 which elected the consensus president and his Unity Government for a two-year period.
The second phase began with the formation of a preparatory committee for the National Dialogue Conference made up of members of all political parties and civil society representatives, including women and youth. The Conference began on March 18, 2013, the second anniversary of “Dignity Day”, and is destined to last up to 6 months. During this time it will form a Constitutional Drafting Commission to draft a new Constitution, considering the issues of political reform; a comprehensive democratic system and measures to promote economic development. The Conference is regarded as the key part in the second phase of the two-year power transition and is viewed as the pivotal turning point, crucial to the achievement of real change.
Upon conclusion of the Conference and within three months, the Constitutional Commission will draft a new Constitution and once it has been approved by a national referendum it will be adopted, and a Presidential election will be convened in February 2014.
The launch of the National Dialogue Conference in Yemen brought together Yemen’s senior officials and 565 representatives of the country’s various political groups; Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Dr. Abdul Latif Al-Zayani; Special Adviser and Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to Yemen, Jamal Benomar; along with Ambassadors of sponsor countries of the Gulf initiative; as well as heads and members of Arab and foreign diplomatic missions and communities.
In his opening speech to the Conference, President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi said that he considered this day to be a “crucial day and the first seed of the political solution in Yemen”, as well as “an exceptional one gathering all together to participate in writing a new page in modern history.”
He urged that everyone to understand that they were on the brink of a defining moment that would require strength of will in order to change former attitudes and approaches, but that he had confidence in the strength and resilience of Yemenis to achieve miracles if they can overcome small disputes and narrow interests. He urged everyone to consider the good examples set by other contemporary countries which have emerged from situations of tremendous adversity and have been able to reverse their situation in relatively short periods of time.
He steadfastly addressed the Dialogue Conference with the following qualification, “This national conference has only one choice, which is success and only success!” He added that this would require all of the participants in the conference to agree upon the correct path with impartiality, honesty and in good faith. He was particularly emphatic that this historic moment demands renouncing the past, ascending from the trenches of fanaticism and refusing to inherit a legacy of conflict. A new page requires leaving political and negative machinations outside the halls of dialogue. The issues at hand will necessitate everyone to make concessions.
He further emphasized that, “The ambitions and goals that we have failed to accomplish over the past decades have been to build a modern civil state, based on the foundations of good governance and the principles of consultation and the mechanisms of contemporary democracy, social justice and the rule of law”. In order to be successful in this endeavour he pointed out that the Conference members were chosen carefully from all spectra of Yemeni society to work together in unison to reverse the current political, security and economic crisis. In addition, the President urged the members to take advantage of the unprecedented support, both politically and economically, from the regional and international community, the assistance of which would be of tremendous benefit to the National Dialogue Conference.
The president affirmed that the Southern issue is the pivotal issue of the dialogue and the key to address all other issues. He stressed in this context that any thought to impose any notion for addressing this national issue by armed force would only lead to a catastrophic failure, disastrous mistakes and massive destruction. The consensus on a rational, realistic and national vision about the South, in particular, will lead inevitably to drafting a new social contract. However, the President expressed his confidence that the Members of the Dialogue Conference will make every effort to bring Yemen out of its ordeal.
The president concluded his speech, expressing his thanks and appreciation to Yemen’s brothers in the GCC countries and the international community for their great sponsorship and their allegiance to Yemen in its crisis.
The launch was applauded by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as “an historic opportunity for the people of the country, including women and youth to come together to resolve grievances and to build trust, ensure justice, promote human rights and contribute to Yemen’s development and prosperity. The people of Yemen have chosen the path of peaceful dialogue and reconciliation”.
For his part, Secretary-General of the GCC Dr. al-Zayani confirmed in his speech, which was delivered by Director of the GCC Office in Sana’a, Saad al-Arifi, the keenness of the GCC country leaders on supporting the Yemeni people and commending what has been achieved so far in the political settlement in Yemen. He also expressed his confidence that Yemenis will reach, through the dialogue, the results that serve the aspirations of the Yemeni people, confirming that Yemeni wisdom will lead the Yemenis in their dialogue and noted that the example of Yemen in resolving the Yemeni crisis, formed a unique model of what can be achieved with the availability of will and determination in conjunction with regional and international support and coordination.
Jamal Benomar also echoed his support and made it clear that he and his team, “remain fully engaged with all sides to support the National Dialogue and they will continue to work closely with GCC members and other international partners to help the transition succeed.” He also noted that the opening of the dialogue conference is coinciding with the anniversary of ”Dignity Friday ” (March 18, 2011), the day that Yemenis made it a transition point, despite the attempts of some forces to undermine this peaceful endeavour. He also pointed out that despite the winds of change that swept the entire region, Yemen is the only case that achieved the transition of power through a peaceful negotiation process and that, "Today we are in front of a favourable historic opportunity to resolve all issues and the international and regional support to Yemen enhances this opportunity”. He expressed his confidence that all parties will work throughout the coming weeks and months to formulate the most important elements of the new social contract in Yemen and their efforts will be successful. He considered that the success of the dialogue process is not necessary for Yemenis only but for all peoples of the region.
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