Yemen’s democratic transition is on track but faces serious challenges, the United Nations envoy for the country said today, noting that it is vital to proceed with the re-structuring of the armed forces and the all-inclusive national dialogue.
Yemen has been undergoing a democratic transition, under the leadership of President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour, who came to power in an election in February. This followed the agreement signed by warring factions in November 2011 on a transitional settlement in the wake of widespread protests similar to those seen across the Middle East and North Africa and the resignation of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
“The transition is on track, but there have been challenges – serious challenges in various areas, including in the political and the security fields,” Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Yemen, told reporters at UN Headquarters.
Mr. Benomar, who recently returned from his 14th mission to Yemen, told the Security Council in a closed-door briefing that, for the State to be able to function, it will need to reassert its authority in various parts of the country, especially where armed groups are in control.
Last week a terrorist attack in the capital, Sana’a, resulted in numerous deaths and injuries, including among the security detail of Yemen’s defence minister.
Mr. Benomar had strongly condemned the attack, which was the sixth attempt on the minister’s life, in a statement issued over the weekend. “This atrocious terrorist attack, which killed a number of innocent Yemenis, civilian and military alike, cannot be justified in any way, and every effort must be made to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice,” he had stated.
He told the Council today that with that terrorist attacks and with the recent attack on the United States Embassy in Sana’a, the re-structuring of the armed forces will need to proceed and the Council will need to support the President in pushing forward this process.
Council members voiced their support for the steps taken by Yemen’s President in reforming and restructuring the security sector, while sharing the concerns by Mr. Benomar about ongoing attempts to undermine the transition process.
They also agreed that “comprehensive and inclusive national dialogue should begin without delay in order to lay the foundations for a stable and unified Yemen,” Ambassador Peter Wittig of Germany, which holds the Council’s rotating presidency for this month, told reporters.
Initial preparations have begun for the national dialogue conference, whose outcome will feed into the constitution-making process that is to conclude in late 2013, enabling general elections to take place in February 2014.
Mr. Benomar described the national dialogue as a “historic opportunity” for all Yemenis to come together to address important issues and reported that the preparatory committee for the national dialogue has made progress.
“I told the Council that the atmosphere in this committee was very constructive and the national dialogue is really what will make or break this transition, and it is important that we support this process.”
A high-level meeting of the Friends of Yemen is scheduled to take place in New York on 27 September on the margins of the general debate of the General Assembly with the aim of reaffirming the international community’s strong support for the transition process.