NDC Week in Review: August 17-23

24 August 2013 /

This past week featured key NDC activities, with implementations of aspects of the 31-point (in total) lists, including the issuance of official apologies to citizens in southern and eastern governorates, as well as those in Sa’ada governorate, for both the 1994 Civil War and the Sa’ada Wars. The national reconciliation government apologized for the wars on behalf of former governments which were cited as being responsible for the wars.

The apologies have been widely applauded at local, regional and international levels and seen as contributing to the success of the country’s political transition and the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) in particular. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary General Abdulatif Al-Zayyani said the apologies represented a key step towards turning over a new leaf in Yemen, while also urging all factions to back the current power-sharing government.

Representatives from the Southern Movement and Shiite Houthis in Sa’ada had both previously demanded such an apology from the government and parties involved in the wars.

Spokespersons and NDC members affiliated with the two groups said the apologies, which they deemed as necessary, represented key steps toward productive, genuine national reconciliation, part of efforts to heal national rifts which were only deepened by conflicts. 

In other news, President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi met with members of the committee tasked with addressing the theft of southern Yemeni lands. In the meeting, those present reviewed the committee’s achievements, which received Hadi’s praise.

Hadi met separately with the NDC Presidency and discussed the lists containing 31 points focused on addressing southern problems and concerns. The meeting also covered progress made in reinstating military officers and soldiers who were wrongfully forced to retire or terminated.

 

With regard to the NDC Secretariat General, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, the NDC's Secretary General, made an official trip to Saudi Arabia, where he met with GCC Secretary General Abdulatif Al-Zayani. At the meeting, bin Mubarak briefed Al-Zayani on progress at the NDC, as well as on the NDC's agenda for the six-month dialogue conference’s remaining weeks.

First Vice Secretary General Afrah Al-Zouba attended the opening meeting of the Third Judicial Forum in Sana’a and delivered a speech in which she stressed the importance of the forum's outcomes.

"The Yemeni people are looking forward to viewing outcomes from this forum, which coincides with the NDC," she said. "The forum's outcomes will add to NDC's resolutions concerned with developing the country’s judiciary system."

 

At the level of the NDC's Working Groups, the nine groups continued work on their agenda topics through their mini-committees and amid the continued absence of a number of southern NDC members.

The mini-committees focused on discussing subcommittee reports, comments on the reports, and other agenda topics. However, no votes on approved resolutions were conducted, as the southern members’ absence translated into the working groups’ lack of quorums.

Working group chairpersons and other NDC members said there had been open lines of communication between with conference leadership figures and members affiliated with the Southern Movement over the matter of the absent members’ return.

The leadership figures affirmed that the southern members would resume their conference activities very soon.

 

Activity details:

This past week, members of the State-Building Working Group consensually approved 59 ‘essential’ political, economic and social items. The political essential items stated that constitutional legitimacy and rule of law were the bases of power; that the government should undertake all necessary procedures to ensure the neutrality of all public institutions; and that no parties should be formed on sectarian or racial bases.

Also, they stated that the government is the only entity that should be entitled to have armed forces built for national, not special, interests; that there must be respect for human rights and international conventions on human rights should be ratified; there must be respect for citizen freedoms; that it is forbidden for Yemeni officials to receive illegal funds from foreign nations; and that Yemen’s political system should be democratic and based on political pluralism to ensure a peaceful succession of power.

Other political essential items included forbidding the use of houses of worship for political purposes, applying principles of accountability to state employees (and senior employees in particular), a confirmation of the role of the police in protecting people’s lives, and a forbidding of offences against Islam and other religions.

The economic essentials stipulated that the government should encourage the flow of free trade and attract investments, encourage individual initiatives and competition, relax procedures to encourage investments and ensure that energy resource contracts are in accordance with the law. Furthermore, it was advised that economic policies should be based on strategic planning to ensure the best use of national resources, that corruption at public institutions is stemmed, and that Yemen’s investment climate is improved.

The main social essentials concerned the matters of equality of opportunity, freedom in the field of scientific research, women’s and children’s rights, education rights, sufficient water supplies and environmental concerns, the protection of monuments and Yemen’s historical heritage, care for handicapped citizens, Yemeni expatriates, and government responsibilities in response to natural disasters. 

Earlier in the week, the group’s members continued to discuss standards and conditions for membership on the constitution-drafting committee, as well as topics which the group will soon vote on. The group’s members have continued to await outcomes from the Southern Issue Working Group; once these outcomes are available, the State-Building group’s members will be freed up to make progress on the state structure topic.

 

Members of the Southern Issue Working Group did not carry out any tasks this past week; the absence of southern members prompted the group’s other members to not attend meetings.

The Sa’ada Issue Working Group's solutions committee approved potential solutions to the Sa’ada issue, including those concerned with redressing the educational situation in war-affected areas in Sa’ada governorate.

The potential solutions to the educational problem included calls for schools to be rebuilt, for students to be allowed to complete studies which conflicts forced them to miss, and for examinations to be re-held where needed.

Furthermore, one solution called for Yemeni universities and colleges to allocate ten percent of their student admissions – for a period of ten years – to students from war-affected areas in Sa’ada.

The solutions committee has so far consensually approved 30 potential solutions to Sa’ada-related issues. Other potential solutions focused on closing the information ministry, promoting respect for state employment, building a decentralized state based on themes of good governance, equal citizenship and the rule of law, restructuring the armed and security forces and providing for the separation of powers.

At the end of the week, the committee suspended its activities because its members had failed to reach a consensus on an item after it had been discussed for three days. The item was referred the larger working group to allow the members to discuss and reach a consensus on the item. In the event that the members fail to reach a consensus, the decision will be referred to the NDC Consensus Committee. 

 

This past week, members of the National Issues and Transitional Justice Working Group's mini-committee continued to discuss a group subcommittee report on enforced disappearances.

The committee also received a lecture from a German expert on possible approaches to recovering embezzled properties.

The German expert reviewed his country's experience in this area, including steps taken to form a committee tasked with addressing stolen lands and funds, the formation of a fund to facilitate the recovery process, the collection of resources for the fund, and how German authorities compensated and resolved problems experienced by beneficiaries.  

Also, British ambassador to Yemen Jane Marriott visited the working group and stressed the significance of the group's tasks.

Members of the Good Governance Working Group sent letters to NDC Presidency which discussed the continued detention of hundreds of Yemeni fishermen by Eritrean authorities, and continued violations connected with U.S. drone strikes.

The letters also urged the Presidency to issue statements and act in response to the issues. The members also sent a letter to Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in which he was urged to take action in connection with energy contracts.

 

Members of the Development Working Group’s mini-committee completed discussions of potential comprehensive development constitutional items, transitional period executive decisions and a vision concerning obstacles to development, as well as development goals and policies.

 

Rights and Freedoms Working Group members discussed report items which overlapped each other; a committee was formed to edit the report and resolve such matters. The group’s members also sent a letter to President Hadi which urged him to take action and obtain the release of Yemeni fishermen detained by Eritrean authorities. Furthermore, the group’s members received a lecture from United Nations expert Alma Abdelhadi on the matter of dispute and conflict resolution.

 

Members of the Army and Security Working Group continued to discuss comments on subcommittee reports and other agenda items. The group’s members also protested the nature of admission center distribution at military colleges. Later in the week, Yemen’s Defense Minister and Chief of Staff visited the group and provided them with clarifications on the issue.

 

Independence of Special Entities Working Group members completed discussions on a report focused on acts of revenge and weapons. Group member comments were integrated into the report; from there, it was referred to the group committee tasked with drafting the final draft of the report.

 

 

 




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