The Need for National Consensus in Yemen

  • 24 June 2013

The differences that have cropped up during the most recent National Dialogue Conference (NDC) session in Yemen, over the system of government in the future, are an indication of the obstacles facing the country’s aspirations and to its efforts to draw a roadmap for security and stability. At a time when regional and international powers are looking at the process of dialogue as critical to Yemen’s transition, differences have surfaced once again on this issue. This is a worrying sign because it demonstrates a lack of agreement on issues of national concern in Yemen, which will have a direct bearing on the country’s present and the future.

The South Yemen Movement (SYM) representatives are demanding federal northern and southern states while the General People Congress (GPC) and the Yemeni Congregation for Reform – also known as ‘Islamic Reform’ – visualize a local government system. Other small formations favor a federal multi-province system. These differences have sprung up at a crucial time in Yemen’s history. The country faces threat from Al-Qaeda, secessionism, sectarianism and deteriorating economic situation, which has a negative impact on security and living conditions of the people. A problem such as this can only be resolved through consensus and common understanding of issues.

The national dialogue, which is the result of the Gulf Initiative, is certainly the most important step in the transition of Yemen. It offers an important opportunity to tackle critical issues such as endorsement of a new system of government, re-writing of the Constitution – which will be subjected to referendum later this year – and preparation for legislative and presidential elections of 2014. Political powers must realize that the success of national dialogue will put Yemen on the right track and that differences can be only resolved through common will and understanding.

The successful of this process would serve national, regional and international interests for several reasons, primarily because Yemen adds strategic depth to the security and stability in the Gulf and the Middle East. This would bring security and stability to Yemen and thwart bids being made to create chaos in the country. The dialogue will also set the stage for continued Gulf, Arab, and international political and development support for Yemen to help Yemenis overcome obstacles and begin a new phase of reconstruction and development. For this to happen, various political powers should put the country’s interest ahead of minor differences in times to come.