Yemen Presidential Statement
The Council is scheduled to adopt a presidential statement on Yemen this morning (29 March). The draft was circulated at expert level on Monday evening (26 March) and went into silence yesterday until 9 am this morning. The Council’s main aim in having this presidential statement appears to be to encourage the political transition process in Yemen.
The draft presidential statement makes clear the Council’s concern over the deterioration in the relationship between key political figures since the transfer of power to President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi on 25 February and stresses the need for all political actors to remain committed to the political transition and constitutional order. (President Hadi, since his election, has been mandated to lead a two year political transition process including a fully inclusive National Dialogue, and constitutional and electoral reform, culminating in full presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014. However, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh still heads the General People’s Congress, which controls the Parliament.)
The draft presidential statement also highlights the importance of carrying out the second phase of the transition. This includes a conference for National Dialogue, restructuring of the security forces, the need to deal with unauthorised weapons, transitional justice legislation, constitutional and electoral reform and the holding of general elections in 2014. There may be concerns among some Council members about resistance to reforms as the elections were boycotted by the Shiite Houthis in the north and the separatist Southern Movement. In addition, many members of the popular resistance movement protesting on the streets throughout Yemen are not supportive of the GCC initiative.
The issue of national inclusiveness, which had been highlighted by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Jamal Benomar, following the presidential elections on 21 February is also covered in the draft presidential statement.
Council members concern about the recent deterioration in the security situation as a result of terrorist attacks is also reflected in the draft text. (On 6 March, media reports cited that 185 soldiers had been killed following a surprise assault on their positions in the southern province of Abyan. More recently, on 28 March, Saudi Arabia’s deputy consul was kidnapped outside his home in the southern city of Aden. While some reports indicated that militants affiliated with Al-Qaeda were responsible for both incidents, other reporting pointed to loyalists of Saleh as the real culprits.)
The draft presidential statement also highlights the Council’s concern at the dire humanitarian situation due to Yemen’s economic and social challenges and urges safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian actors. Other areas that are covered include the need for human rights violators to be held accountable and the need to discourage the use of and recruitment of child soldiers.
The Council’s support for the Friends of Yemen is also reflected in the draft presidential statement. It notes the upcoming Friends of Yemen Ministerial meeting in Riyadh on 23 May and the important role this group can play in bringing together the international community in support of Yemen. (Friends of Yemen comprises 22 countries, the UN, EU, GCC, Arab League, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.)
In the draft presidential statement the Council welcomes the continued engagement of Benomar and the Secretary-General’s intention to deploy a team of experts, to work alongside the UN country team, and monitor progress on the GCC Initiative and Implementation Mechanism in consultation with the Yemeni government.
Overall Council members seem to be in general agreement that the Council needs to remain seized of the situation in Yemen and ensure that the next phase of political transition is not derailed.