21 January 2014 After being on the brink of civil war, Yemenis negotiated an agreement for peaceful change, the only such in the region, a senior United Nations official today said welcoming the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference as an “historic moment” for the country.
“Yemen serves as a model for comprehensive national dialogue, based on transparency, inclusivity and active and meaningful participation of all political and social constituencies,” said Jamal Benomar, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Adviser on Yemen.
The National Dialogue established a new social contract, the Special Advisor said, “breaking from the past and paving the way for democratic governance founded on the rule of law, human rights and equal citizenship.”
Launched on 18 March, the National Dialogue Conference brought new actors to the political process such as youth, women, civil society representatives and the Hiraak Southern Movement. The Conference aimed to feed into a constitution-making process and pave the way for general elections in 2014.
The country has been undergoing a democratic transition, with a Government of National Unity, which came to power in an election in February 2012 following the resignation of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He agreed to step down following widespread protests similar to those seen across the Middle East and North Africa as part of the so-called “Arab Spring” pro-democracy movement.
Mr. Benomar, who participated in the Final Plenary chaired by President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi, today also reaffirmed the support of the UN and the international community to the Yemeni-led political process.
He commended the leadership of President Hadi and the contributions of all political constituencies to the National Dialogue’s conclusion.
The on-going talks were originally scheduled to wrap up in September 2013, but were extended. At that time, Mr. Ban had called on all sides to participate in the National Dialogue in good faith and to refrain from any obstruction of the transition process.
Meanwhile, Mr. Benomar also strongly condemned the assassination of Ahmed Sharafuddine, the Ansar Allah delegate to the Conference, today in Sana’a. Mr. Benomar said that this crime “targets Yemen” and is a desperate attempt to jeopardize the political process and the National Dialogue. He further called upon the Yemeni authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
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