Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

The Yemeni National Dialog Committee Issues Vision for National Salvation

Filed under: Civil Society, JMP, Reform — by Jane Novak at 10:35 am on Saturday, March 20, 2010

For the document in Arabic, see al Tagheer. The National Dialog Committee is comprised of the JMP, independents, some GPC members and social figures including political, tribal and businessmen. It is headed by Mr. Mohammed Salem Basandwah, an adviser to the president, and Sheik Hameed Al-Ahmer is its Secretary General. The group is a mechanism dedicated to building a national consensus on the issues facing Yemen and implementing solutions through peaceful means.

Republic of Yemen

Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue

General Secretariat

Summary: Vision for National Salvation

Sana’a 2010

In the name of Allah, the most Merciful the Most Compassionate
“Why were there not, among the generations before you, persons possessed of balanced good sense, prohibiting (men) from mischief in the earth – except a few among them whom We saved (from harm)? But the wrong-doers pursued the enjoyment of the good things of life which were given them, and persisted in sin (116). Nor would thy Lord be the One to destroy communities for a single wrong- doing, if its members were likely to mend” (117). Surat Hud

Introduction:

On Monday Ramadhan 17th 1429 Hijria, corresponding to 07.09.2009, the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue (“PCND”) formed of political and social forces, parties, organizations and individuals, businessmen, scholars, intellectuals, opinion leaders, women and youth leaders presented to the Yemeni people of all its political and social categories, classes, forces and components this national dialogue vision. The directions and contents of this vision were formulated by the National Consultation Forum (NCF). The PCND, through serious and responsible discussions and deliberations ultimately concluded that the last opportunity for all Yemenis to confront the nationwide crisis is the mobilization of all national efforts and energies so we all represent a leverage for peaceful change and national salivation that relieves the country from the hands of despotism and corruption. The country should be rescued from this sophisticated cyclone of the crisis. Dire consequences should be avoided with the aim of having a safe and stable country where the dignity of Yemeni people, their rights and freedoms are preserved, and where respect for the principles and goals of the Yemeni revolution is restored and for the noble democratic choices of the Yemeni people agreed upon on 22nd of May 1990 as irrevocable choices.

The following is a summary of this proposed vision containing its key elements.

First:

Objective Diagnosis of the Current Crisis

Roots of the Crisis:

Despotic and autocratic clan or race based regimes that fostered central un-institutional power as a mean to justify and cover up its clan or race based monopoly of power, authority and resources. This is the true impasse and crisis that wasted the right of people in power and the right of country in its human and material resources and, thus, deepening retardation and waste.

Since 1930s, Yemenis were struggling and making substantial sacrifices with enormous number of martyrs to face and resolve this dilemma and abolishing its painful reflections by working to establish a national state as a frame for all Yemenis on the basis of equal citizenship, rule of law and a decentralized system representing the wishes of different groups and forces in the nation.

This continued until the morning of the 22nd of May 1990 when a peaceful unification was realized with all associated national and democratic contents, creating a favorable environment for resolving the historical crisis and opening horizons for the future through:

1. Ending the situation of geographic and social separation that affected the social and national identify of the Yemeni people and, thus, ensuring the direction of national resources to achieve envisaged social development and prosperity.
2. Eliminating all forms of factional discrimination, arrogance tendencies, autocracy and seizure of resources, which, under fragmentation and division, grew and dominated on other forms of consultative democratic regime dreamed of by Yemenis.
3. Opening doors for ousting all forms of autocratic rule, despotism and tyranny and establishing an institutionalized nation-state resting on the principles of equal citizenship and the rule of law as means to overcome the state of retardation and to catch up with the time, strengthen independence and national sovereignty.
4. The peaceful nature of the Yemeni unification represented a fresh start for new Yemeni history repudiating the use of violence for political purposes or in national struggle. Therefore, unity was correlated with political and partisan pluralism, the exchange of power through free and fair elections as inevitable conditions for enhancing the building of modern national state, which would not be built under the state of violence, fragmentation and conflicts over power, resources and decisions.

It is very unfortunate that events followed a different direction. A crisis broke out by the end of 1993 and a civil war erupted in the summer of 1994. In the wake of that war, the rulers pounced against the concepts of the national partnership and the nascent democratic project based on political and partisan pluralism and, hence, obstructed all horizons of hope that were open before Yemenis on 22nd of May 1990.

Second:

Key Manifestations of the Crisis

1. Political Manifestations:

Replacing the project of building an institutionalized nation state by autocratic authority that mobilized the state elements outside their institutional scope to secure the needed authority, in part, to hinder the building of a state and, in the other part, to protect the family power; the two processes lead to the same outcome, which is the deepening of the personalization of the state, power and regime, blocking horizons of any change through free and fair elections, obstructing the principle of the peaceful transfer of power, destruction of the plural political system, diminishing the democratic project and civic live pillars, seizure of public freedoms and rights, strangulation of free press, generation and fueling of violence, fanaticism, hatred and all forms of political conflicts, tribal feuds and battles and local violence.

b. Main national manifestations of the crisis:

1. The Southern Cause:

The southern cause represents the most serious hotspot of the national crisis. In the evolution of this crisis, an unprecedented state of people’s dissatisfaction emerged in southern governorate. This dissatisfaction was then materialized in political and social movements that strongly advocate for the southern cause as a natural reaction to the failure of the authority in managing the unity of the country and converting it from a national democratic project into a forceful approach of dominance through wars and excessive use of force to topple the national partnership and to control power and resources, depending the worst elements of both regimes and abandoning the better elements.

The authority viewed its military victory on 07.07.1994 as the final accomplishment for completing or ending the history and that it does not need to present a national political project taking into account cleaning the impacts of the war, treating is traumas and leading the country towards implementing the unity covenants, especially the covenants related to building a state based on the rule of law, strong national institutions, equal citizenship, generating benefits to the citizens from the unification democratic project as well as adopting effective policies to deepen the national fraternization, rehabilitating the unified and big Yemen to achieve national and social integration objectively.

The authority, with a primitive mentality of supremacy, worked to destroy the state body of the former southern state, abolishing its accumulated experiences, laying off thousands of its civil and military employees with no considerations whatsoever to their legitimate rights. Public sector institutions were privatized through a systemic looting process benefiting only the influential people. Workers were thrown to the unemployment market with no rights. Likewise, peasants were expelled from their lands, state farms were seized and redistributed to a handful of influential people. State lands were also looted for the benefit of a small group of influential people on the account of investment and accommodation needs. The unification was transformed, from being a noble national cause linked to the dreams and ambitions of southerners, became a daily accusation that follows most of them. Moreover, the official media never stopped using unity as a mean for humiliation and demoralization of the southern citizens with no exceptions.

2. Sada War:

The repeated eruptions, and expansion of scope, of Sada war since June 2004 until it reaches the vicinity of the capital, represented a serious situation reflecting the lack of an institutional system capable of dealing with social, cultural, political and security challenges from a national perspective avoiding the slippage into factional and sectarian wars. The dangerouss developments of Sada war are bringing back to the surface these concerns and now fears exist that such war may expand and demolish national unity and ignite unprecedented sectarian and tribal wars.

Sada war also reveals the extent of devastation the authority inflects upon the society as a result of promoting the feelings of animosity among citizens and fueling violence tendencies for the sake of staying in power.

c. Economic Manifestations of the Crisis:

The Economic crisis, which is ruthlessly crunching the vast majority of the poor people, is one of the products of this autocratic regime. This regime deliberately dealt with resources and national wealth as gain to be shared among the oligarchic group, their relatives and affiliates. The regime followed a constant approach in dealing with the fluctuating economic crisis. That approach was based on making the poor, limited income people, and owners of small and medium possessions, bear the costs of economic the required economic adjustments. The hand of corruption was unleashed and the mafia of illegal interests dominated. Hence, corruption, unfortunately, became a regular practice to manage the country and a tool to monopolize, own and secure power as well as inheriting it to the sons thereafter. The development process and plans became merely tools to seize national wealth and an element for political propaganda.

Corruption forces amplified, their interests enlarged and their financial balances grew. These forces are dominating different elements in the country and a substantial part of the economic resources of the country are private assets and properties for grand corrupts.

As opportunities for the oligarchy and their related interest groups grow bigger and bigger, the vast majority of people are living in destitution and harsh conditions under the negligence of their interests, and the rocketing Inflation rates, prices of goods, services, and essential food, accommodation, education and prices of health services…etc.

This approach, in light of fragile institutional structures of the state, the dominating corruption, and the disabled and unqualified economic management, led to:

1. Wasting the economic and financial resources and high rates of cash surpluses in the state budget gained by our country in the recent years as a result of high oil prices and increasing production.
2. Eroding the country’s vital capacities, resources and wealth, and preventing the establishment of a solid base for a real economic, political, social and cultural development.
3. Failing to absorb loans and grants from donors for different development fields.
4. Diminishing the role of private investments in the development process. Our country saw an enormous flight of capital abroad and a remarkable regression in the contribution of private sector in development. This is attributed to the continuous suffering of the private sector, being subject to harassment and extortion and the policy of “expulsion” practiced against the private sector from influential elements and corruption circles. This is in addition to the deteriorating services.

5. Deterioration of education in terms of types and quality. In addition, education outputs, in terms of specializations and specifications, do not meet the requirements of development plans and the needs in the labor market internally and externally. Illiteracy rates are also skyrocketing.
6. Absence of public health services and the deterioration of the existing ones. In addition, water, electricity, social and basic services that should be provided by the government is in decadence.
7. Absence of comprehensive rural development, which means the marginalization and deprivation of the majority of the population from development benefits. More than 70% of the population are living in rural areas.

Section Two:

Solutions

The essence of these solutions is to revive the spirit and contents of the peaceful unification (on the 22nd of May 990), restore the respect to the Yemeni revolution goals, and to rejuvenate the national democratic project as a key entry point to solve and address different aspects of this perilous crisis. The aim is to save the people, presently and in the future, from the cyclone of aggravating violence, and escalating disturbances as well as the peoples’ suffering for livelihood, access to services and to escape a total and direful collapse.

The first step of total national solutions for the aggravating situation, begins first and foremost, by treating the hotpots and stopping the collapse. Afterwards, there comes the process of rebuilding the state and the system on sound basis preventing the country from falling in the quagmire and the dark tunnel, which the current regime brought the country into.

First: Urgent Salvation Tasks and Solutions (halting the collapse)

1. Making appropriate the political atmosphere:

1. The Immediate relinquishment of the use of force, violence and civil wars as well as the militarization of political and civil life under any justifications and work to bring back hope to those having rightful demands and claims.
2. Stop military campaigns, apprehensions and chasing activists. The immediate release of political prisoners and compensate them. Prosecute and trial all those who violated human rights.
3. Abolish all laws, resolutions, instructions and orders that restrict public rights and freedoms in violation to the constitution and loosen the security fist on the administrative body of the state.
4. Restore equal citizenship rights with all associated obligations of not endangering the right in public jobs.

2. Remove the impacts of 1994 war through a comprehensive national settlement leading to resolving the southern cause with its righteous and political dimensions fairly and comprehensively putting the south in its natural position as party in the national equation and as a real partner in power and wealth in a national partnership state. This is a critical entry point for a comprehensive national solution for the aggravating situation under which the vast majority of people in all parts of the country live.

3. Address all impacts of previous political wars and conflicts including the 1978 events, compensate for all material and moral damages inflected to organizations and people as a result thereof.

4. Stopping the bloodshed in Sada by expeditiously working to resolve the volatile situation in Sada by putting it on a comprehensive national dialogue table where the Houthis are party to. Renewed hostilities triggers, causes and reasons should be eliminated in this part of the country (Sada).

5. Resolving revenge and local violence issues, concluding a general settlement between disputing tribes in preparation to address and conclusively resolve all pending revenge cases, criminalizing revenge acts and all those who commit these acts thereafter.

Second: Building a modern national state

Building a democratic state that promotes the values of freedom, social justice and national independence on the base of decentralization in a form that materializes national partnership in power and resources for all Yemenis as through:

1. Developing the state structure on the base of decentralization:

In this respect, the PCND is recommending the following options (subject to dialogue):

Option: Local governance as contained in the covenant document.

Option: Federation

Option: Full authority local governance

Regardless of the option to be agreed upon through the expanded national dialogue, such option has to be based on the following principles:

1. Decentralized and regional unit should be divided and identified according to a field study taking into account objective standards as well as political, economic and social dimensions including:

1. National and political dimension: This targets strengthening the elements of community partnership in national unity, creating integration of reciprocal interests and benefits including the necessary relations and links for social and national integration. This is essential to overcome traditional tribal, regional and sectarian differences and allegiances and to foster national culture and the spirit of affiliation to the one Yemeni country.
2. Geographical dimension: Taking into consideration the spatial, geographic and climatic similarities, the required infrastructure elements for easy communication and transportation that will strengthen the ability of effective management of the regions and to create a kind of competition ensuring efficiency, fairness and balance in provision of services to the people.
3. Taking into account the population and demographic balance between the new regions to achieve fair developmental progress of regions.
4. Economic dimension: related to balancing the elements of economic life and livelihood of people in terms of natural and human resources available for each region as indicated by geological maps and natural resources maps to ensure the availability of self resources for each region and to realize fair distribution of resources and wealth.
5. Each region should have a seaport easing its commercial activity (import and export). Moreover, coastal lines benefit in tourism and fisheries fields boosting development in regions in a balanced manner.

2. Free, fair and direct elections for decentralized authorities and leaders and adopting the principle of rotation of jobs to ensure real materialization of democratic practiced broadly and to motivate the peoples’ participation in political life.

3. Clear constitutional definitions for centralized and decentralized powers and authorities based on the principle of power sharing and to enable decentralized elected bodies of administering their affairs in relation to issues of labor, public jobs, education, health, housing, transportation, roads, construction, urban planning, domestic trade, social and economic affairs, cultural events, police and security tasks…. and other public services including the right to appoint executive leaders, state employees and dismissing them, the right of monitoring and holding accountable different implementation activities in the region, the right to set local taxes and fees, issuing regulations related to the decentralized governance, taking measures to protect state lands and properties, the endowments in the regions and other non-sovereign functions in line with the general policies of the state and the applicable constitution.

2. Establishing a parliamentary political system: as an option put forward by the PCND but it does not seize the right of others partaking in national dialogue to make their own proposals within a serious national dialogue. The parliamentarian system proposed in this vision is as follows:

1. Formation of the legislative authority on bicameral basis (parliament and Shura council), the term of each shall be four years. The Shura council shall compose of a number of members not exceeding half the number of the parliament members. They should all be elected through free, and direct secret ballot with equal representation of regions. This representation shall be considered upon discussing the council regulation and its voting system.
2. The president of the republic is the symbol of the state and its unity. The president shall assume the known protocol tasks under parliamentarian systems according to the mandate stated in the constitution. The president shall be elected for a term of five years in the joint session of the parliament and Shura council. The president may be reelected for one additional term only.
3. The government is the actual executive power in the state. All ministries, authorities, institutions and executive bodies either civil or military shall be under the control of the government except institutions enjoying special autonomy pursuant to the constitution.
4. It is prohibited that any of the president or prime minister’s family members (to the fourth grade) assumes any of the following posts: chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, governor of the Central Bank and sub-governors, army chief of staff and his deputies and assistants, commanders of armed forces branches (land, marine and air forces), their deputies and assistants, heads of security and intelligence agencies and their deputies and assistants, chairman of the Central Organization for Control and Auditing, his deputies and assistants, chairman and members of the Supreme Elections Commission.

3. Reforming Judicial authority by ensuring independence of judiciary from the executive authority and to finalize the structure of judicial authority through: election of the Supreme Judicial Council and granting it full powers to administer the affairs of judicial authority, creation of a constitutional court with its independent structure, establish administrative courts as a separate body from conventional courts and prohibit the creation of extraordinary courts.

4. Reforming the electoral system by adopting proportional representation system. Impartiality of the Supreme Elections commission shall be guaranteed plus the independence of the electoral administration in all its phases.

5. Reforming administration and combating corruption:

1. Secure descent life for all employees, forbid any trading in or selling of public jobs, adopt the criteria of merit, competency, capacity, seniority and qualifications in appointments in public jobs. Adopt the principle of open competition for joining public jobs in light of these criteria and the sound implementation of reward and punishment principle.
2. The serious combating of the widespread corruption, the organized wasting and looting of public funds. Such phenomena are wasting the efforts and resources of development. The strict implementation of the constitution text and essence in banning senior state leaders from performing, directly or indirectly, any commercial, financial or industrial activities, and from buying or selling any of the state properties, even through public auctions, and from renting or selling any of their properties to the state, and from contributing in any contracts concluded by the government or public institutions or combining between their official posts and membership in the boards of any companies.

6. Restoring the national nature of armed forces and security, define their role in harmony with the constitution, the democratic parliamentarian system, the requirements of political pluralism and peaceful transfer of power

Third: Economic and Social Reforms:

1. Reform the economic administration within comprehensive institutional reforms. A national strategy for sustainable and comprehensive development (human and productive) to develop economic resources, expand sources of national income, strengthening the role of public, private and cooperative sectors to ensure increased production, fair distribution, alleviating poverty and unemployment and achieving social peace.
2. Reform monetary policy, adopt full clarity and transparency in the state budget and not including any unclassified items in the budget under any justifications. Abolish the practice of supplementary budgets, reform financial legislations and add new and strict controls and conditions preventing such cases.
3. Reform fiscal policy and ensure full autonomy of the Central Bank of Yemen to enable it of undertaking its role following advanced objective and practical bases as the institution in charge of drawing the fiscal policy, control over the banking sector, developing and investing the cash reserves of the country, stabilizing prices, curbing inflation pressures, stabilizing the value of national currency and boosting economic growth.
4. Ensure that the state does not relinquish its social functions and constitutional duties including: free education, provision of health care and services, maternal and child care, environment protection… and other basic services enshrined in the constitution and international human rights treaties.
5. Implement educational reforms, linking education outputs to development and labor market requirements.
6. Implement a national strategy for culture and cultural development to preserve the identity of the society, its religion, ethics and affiliations and deepening the culture of dialogue, tolerance and respect for human rights.
7. Serious attention to the water and power crisis affecting vast areas of the country and adversely reflecting itself on human life, agricultural and economic development.

Fourth: Yemeni Women Empowerment:

By enhancing the position and role of women in the society and empowering them to practice all their constitutional and legal rights and their active participation in public life.

Fifth: Reforming external policy:

Reformulate the foreign policy of the Republic of Yemen on the base of national partnership and transparent relations in formulating and setting its objectives and directions under the priorities that reflect the cultural affiliations of Yemen and its geographic location and to translate the principles, objectives and ambitions of the Yemeni people including preserving the independence and sovereignty of Yemen, protecting its security and its territorial integrity. Enabling Yemen of actively contributing in boosting regional and international security and stability, defending the Arab and Muslim causes, on top of which are the Palestine and Iraq causes, and supporting human causes to fulfill the Yemen’s cultural mission.

Section Three:

Implementation Mechanisms

These mechanisms are based on dialogue and all forms of peaceful struggle as follows:

1. Adopting mechanisms of national comprehensive dialogue through which this vision, along with its diagnosis of the crisis and proposed solutions are communicated to all people of the country to inform them about this vision and to create a national consensus around it through diverse and comprehensive dialogue. This visions hall be considered as the national alternative for releasing the country from its status quo. This mechanism entails the following:

o Inviting parties to the national crisis in Sada and southern governorates and those parties abroad to a serious national dialogue.
o Invite the authority to be involved in the national dialogue in order to come out with an agreement that revives the principle of peaceful transition of power and ensures conducting free and fair elections.
o Preparing for a wide national conference representing the people of Yemen and its communities to review, discuss, approve and enact the results of the dialogue in the form of resolutions deriving their legitimacy from the peoples’ legitimacy and to seek appropriate peaceful means to implement the resolutions.

2. Adopting peaceful national democratic forms of struggle by all parties to the PCND. Mobilizing and gathering organizational, political and materials resources to support national dialogue initiatives and events and achieving peoples’ consensus on the national salivation vision under the constitution and law making the task of defending the country as a duty on all Yemeni citizens.

3. Mechanisms for qualitative communications, intellectual and media interaction to expand the scope of support for the salvation, change and national development and reforms solutions reaching to a stage where a national community-based framework is formed with peoples’ support encompassing all elements of the Yemeni society to work as a guardian for the state from collapse.
4. Mechanisms for managing the continuing the struggle following a time schedule defining stages and steps, harmonizing mechanism and mobilizing recourses for their optimum utilization.
5. The means and mechanisms emitting from the national dialogue conference that shall be finally approved for implementation on the ground.

Conclusion:

The PCND, while presenting this vision to all people of Yemen, calls upon all citizens to shoulder responsibilities for salvation and change. The PCND hopes this vision will be met with interaction in terms of enriching comments, corrections and suggestions from everybody. We pledge before Allah to work with all legitimate and peaceful means to bring into success and to implement the solutions resulting from the NDC in order to achieve a situation where all rights are maintained.

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