Change in Yemen must follow constitutional process, UN debate told

Foreign Minister Abubakr A. Al-Qirbi of Yemen

27 September 2011 – The turmoil gripping Yemen will only be resolved through a constitutional process and a smooth transition of power that does not violate democratic principles, the country’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today.

Abubakr A. Al-Qirbi told the final day of the Assembly’s annual general debate that President Ali Abdullah Saleh had repeatedly shown he was willing to compromise and reform, such as his announced intention earlier this year not to run again for the presidency.

The Government had acknowledged that a combination of unbridled population growth, widespread poverty, desertification and a lack of oil had created an environment that left thousands of university graduates in Yemen unable to find work, he said.

But opposition forces had taken advantage of the wider movement for democracy and change across North Africa and the Middle East to prevent Yemen from making changes through democratic elections, according to Mr. Al-Qirbi.

Top United Nations officials have repeatedly expressed concern this year over the situation in Yemen, where thousands of unarmed demonstrators have been killed or injured since the protests began.

“The opposition parties abused and misused the vigils by youth in order to seize power, and some of their elements conducted subversive actions to sabotage the movement of the youth,” Mr. Al-Qirbi said.

Saying the Government was still willing to hold a dialogue with the opposition, he stressed that divisions inside Yemen would only be overcome by a return to the legality of the constitution and by fixing any shortcomings it might have.

A smooth transition of power would allow reconciliation, reform and reconstruction without violating democratic principles, the Foreign Minister said.

He added that Yemen could end up serving as a model for change in which all parties would be winners and as an example of a country that had opted for dialogue as a means to resolve a crisis.

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