22 January 2014 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated Yemen on successfully concluding nearly year-long talks on which the country's new constitution will be founded, but warned that obstacles remain and called on citizens to work together towards building a new Yemen.
“Yemen has demonstrated to the region that positive change is possible when pursued through dialogue and compromise,” Mr. Ban said in a statement from his spokesperson.
He commended the commitment of all political actors to achieve a peaceful transition – particularly the leadership and determination of President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi and the delegates of the Conference – which have set Yemen “on the path to democratic governance.”
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.
Its conclusion represents “a major step forward in the transition of Yemen and a hard won achievement, in the face of obstacles and delays,” Mr. Ban said.
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.
The conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference came on the same day as the assassination of Ahmad Sharafeddin, a leading Houthi delegate to the Conference and former Dean of the Law faculty at Sana'a University.
Mr. Ban condemned the killing calling it “a stark reminder of the challenges Yemen faces” and urged Yemeni authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
He urged Yemenis “to respond positively to the important decisions taken through the National Dialogue and to work in good faith towards building a new Yemen.”
His Special Advisor, Jamal Benomar, called the conclusion of the talks an “historic moment.”
“After being on the brink of civil war, Yemenis negotiated an agreement for peaceful change, the only such in the region,” said Mr. Benomar, who participated in the Final Plenary session of the talks.
The UN has been providing support for Yemen's transition in four key areas: political facilitation in key areas such as the National Dialogue, technical support, capacity-building and a public information and awareness campaign.
Mr. Ban reiterated the UN's continued support to Yemen and the next phase of its transition. He added that Mr. Benomar will remain closely engaged with all Yemeni sides, as well as international partners.
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