Yemen's National Dialogue in Jeopardy

Secessionist sentiment continues to grow in South Yemen.

al-monitor Men sit to chew qat in front of a former South Yemen flag mural in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, situated at the mouth of the Red Sea, Aug. 22, 2013.  Photo by REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi.

Topics covered

yemen, secession, politics

Aug 30, 2013

The conditions finally put forward by the representatives of the Southern Movement in Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC), which began in March 2013, have created an obstacle threatening to derail the transition process and placed Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in a very difficult situation. All this has occurred less than three weeks before the deadline set for the end of the dialogue.

This new development has transpired in light of growing secessionist feelings in the south, which has yet to choose the leaders of its political factions. The situation was further complicated by the departure of the prominent leader Mohammed Ali Ahmed from the country, who had abandoned the southern issue in the NDC until the conditions of the movement were met. Two weeks ago, the movement made several requests: that the dialogue be relocated outside the country; that both the north and the south have an equal number of representatives; and that the conference be held under international auspices

In this context, Hadi stressed during a meeting with the Conciliation Commission of the NDC, the political forces are at stake and face a historic test. Hadi urged the political forces not to waste what he described as a rare opportunity to solidify the future national project.

On the other hand, despite the settling of the issues to be discussed at the dialogue table, the withdrawal of the Southern Movement’s representatives dealt a heavy blow to the conference. This prevented a consensus on crucial issues related to state-building, governance and administrative division, which will determine the nature of the relationship between the north and the south on the one hand, and between the different regions and provinces on the other hand.

According to the Yemen News Agency, Hadi discussed during the meeting with the Conciliation Commission a number of issues related to the dialogue and the establishment of the state based its results. Hadi considered this effort to be the essence of change, based on data of the transitional phase’s programs and the historical political settlement in Yemen. [These two] emanate from the pillars of the Gulf initiative and its executive mechanism.

Hadi, according to the Yemen News Agency, said, “All political and national forces are at stake and face a historical test and a very important opportunity in the modern history of Yemen. This major national project must be completed, this rare historic opportunity must not be wasted and the contemporary standards and the requirements of the 21st century must not be neglected.”

Hadi confirmed that there is a comprehensive agreement on the dialogue’s various outputs, which aim to conclude a new social contract. Furthermore, he stressed that the good governance system must be based on this social contract, as well as on the principles of distribution of wealth and power, justice and freedom.

Additionally, Hadi chaired the meeting of the presidium of the NDC and called for the rapid completion of the remaining committees’ work, especially those dealing with the south issue. Hadi urged the political and social forces to shoulder their responsibility. “Every major work inevitably faces some difficulties at the beginning so that the wheel can start spinning. It also faces some challenges at the end,” said Hadi.

Meanwhile, Al-Hayat was informed that many wish to proceed with the dialogue’s proceedings and to adjourn the final meeting scheduled for Sept. 18 until the Southern Movement’s representatives are persuaded to return to the dialogue table, which requires extending discussions at least for an additional month.

A civil disobedience campaign was launched in cities in southern Yemen on the morning of Aug. 29, carried out by the faction supporting the former vice president of South Yemen, Ali Salem al-Beidh, who resides abroad and is calling for secession from the north.

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