UN urges Yemen to move forward with transition
Marking the first anniversary of the signing of Yemen's peace agreement, a senior United Nations official Friday called on the country's leaders to address pending issues that will enable the launch of the national dialogue - a key element of the democratic transition.
"The national dialogue, driven by Yemenis themselves, will be crucial to secure the country's democratic future and identity. Its success requires bold steps to reassure all Yemenis that their aspirations will be met," said Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser on Yemen.
This is undoubtedly the beginning of the new Yemen. Thus, a speedy conclusion of the preparatory works is urgently needed."
Yemen has been undergoing a democratic transition, with a Government of National Unity under the leadership of President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, who came to power in an election in February. This followed an agreement signed by warring factions in November 2011 on a transitional settlement in the wake of widespread protests similar to those seen across the Middle East and North Africa, and the resignation of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
An important element of the transition is an all-inclusive national dialogue, scheduled to take place later this year, the outcome of which will feed into a constitution-making process that is to conclude in late 2013, enabling general elections to take place in February 2014.
"We stand now at a critical moment of this process, with the preparations for the national dialogue conference coming to a conclusion," Benomar stated.
"Therefore, I call on all political leaders and the preparatory committee of the national dialogue to address the pending issues. It's a matter of urgency to launch the conference and give all segments of Yemeni society the chance to discuss the issues facing their country."
The so-called November agreement provided for a clear path for fundamental reforms of Yemen's governance systems as well as for addressing past wrongs; recognition of the role played by the youth, with a clear roadmap to secure their participation during the transition in a way that meets their aspirations; the opportunity for Yemenis to reclaim their destiny and establish a new constitutional order; and full representation of women throughout the transitional process.
The envoy, in his statement to the press, noted that, despite the "remarkable" progress of the past year, the transition remains "fragile" and the stakes are high. "It's still threatened by those who have not embraced change in the country.
"However, Yemen is the one example in the region where the Security Council and international community are speaking with one voice in support of this unique experience of peaceful change. It is a transition based on a clear roadmap and enjoys the overwhelming support of the population."
During a visit to Yemen on Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had urged Yemen to build on the progress of the last 12 months. "Your country... was on the brink of civil war, even just one year ago. But you have overcome this with political courage and determination which meant, in the end, foresight and political wisdom have prevailed," he told reporters in the capital, Sana'a.
"This is a process which must be irreversible. There is no turning back."