Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Yemeni president postpones forming unity gov't with opposition amid unrest

SANAA, Mar 1, 2011- Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Tuesday postponed forming a joint unity government until reaching a reconciliation agreement with the opposition, the Defense Ministry reported through its mobile service.

Saleh on Monday asked the opposition to form a unity government within the next 24 hours, calling on the opposition to submit names for ministerial posts, according to a government official. The opposition, however, has swiftly rejected Saleh's offer, insisting the departure of the president.

A Yemeni leading female protester Tawakul Karman, who is also a prominent figure in the opposition Islamic Islah Party, told Xinhua that the anti-government protesters across the country rejected Saleh's offer of forming a unity government with the opposition.

The decision was apparently affected by the mounting unrest that rattled Yemen's capital Sanaa and major provinces.

Four protesters were wounded in clashes with anti-riot police on Tuesday in the country's western province of Al-Hodayda.

The president sacked Al-Hodayda governor Ahmed al-Jabali along with other four governors of Aden, Lahj, Abyan and Hadramout Tuesday, in a bid to ease the tensions there, according to state- run news agency Saba.

The ruling party staged Tuesday a rival rally of thousands of government backers in downtown Sanaa, showing support for Saleh and calling the opposition to resume dialogue with the ruling party to avoid further violence.

Just about four km away from downtown Sanaa, the opposition organized a "day of rage" rally of tens of thousands of anti- government protesters.

A Xinhua reporter said about 5,000 anti-government protesters went to Sanaa from Dhamar province, some 60 km south of Sanaa, to join the rallies.

Hamid al-Muraisi, one of the anti-government protesters outside a campus, told Xinhua that protesters insist on the departure of Saleh.

"I want to deliver a message to President Saleh to tell him that the people have given their word, so he should leave for the interest of the people and to refrain from bloodshed," al-Muraisi said.

Provinces of Dhamar, Ibb, Taiz, Aden, Abyan, Shabwa, Al- Bayda and Hadramout also reportedly witnessed anti-government rallies.

Eyewitness Mohammed Kasim told Xinhua that about 10,000 anti- government protesters staged a sit-in in Ibb province.

Meanwhile, Saleh accused the United States and Israel of plotting unrest waves against the Arab world, including his nation.

"What happened in the Arab world is plotted by Israel and run by the White House through manipulating international media," Saleh said at a press conference at Sanaa University.

"The spreading unrest from Tunisia to Oman was run by Tel Aviv under the supervision of Washington," Saleh told reporters.

"Dialogue and ballot boxes are the only solution to the current situation in Yemen," Saleh said.

Saleh pledged last month to quit office after his presidential term expires in 2013 and promised not to hand power to his son.

Inspired by the Egyptian protests, thousands of Yemenis staged daily anti-government protest rallies in the streets of major cities across the country since Feb. 11.

The president vowed on Saturday that he and the army forces would take "full responsibility" to protect the unity of the nation until the last drop of their blood, according to state-run Saba news agency.

Source: (Xinhua)

Saleh heads Cabinet meeting

SANA'A, March 1, 2011- President Ali Abdullah Saleh chaired on Tuesday part of the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers that discussed the latest developments in the country and the efforts being exerted to resume dialogue and implement comprehensive reforms.

The meeting also highlighted the initiatives President Saleh had offered to lift the country out of the current problems and dealt with economic issues, particularly projects for youth to benefit from their abilities through creating jobs for them.

Furthermore, it raised the topic of starting dialogue with the young protesters through the panel Saleh has recently formed.

The topic of reconciliation with the Joint Meeting Parties, the opposition coalition, to form a national unity government was discussed after Saleh stressed on Monday during his meeting with clerics the importance of reconciliation with the opposition.

The Cabinet continued its meeting discussing the annual report of the Supreme Tenders Committee on its activities during 2010. The report highlighted the number of projects implemented, tenders approved and human capacity building programmes as well as the blacklist of contractors at the Ministry of Public Works and Roads.

The Council praised transparency of the Tenders Committee, stressing the importance of sticking to the tenders law and urging the Ministry of Public Works and Roads to coordinate with the concerned bodies to prepare and issue the typical documents of general standards and the guide for public buildings, roads and sanitation.

It urged the Ministry of Trade and Industry to coordinate with the concerned bodies to prepare and issue the special guidelines of registering and classifying importers and the bylaw of general standards.

Moreover, the Council got acquainted with the mechanism proposed by the ministerial committee to implement the presidential orders to absorb 25 per cent of the college graduates registered at the Ministry of Civil Service and Insurance this year.

It praised the mechanism and assigned the committee to prepare a draft bylaw to regulate the process of employing the youths under executive orders approved by the Council.

Source: (Saba)

At Least 25 Injured in Clashes between Protesters, Workers in Sayoon

Sana'a- Mar 1, 2011- At least 25 protesters were injured on Tuesday, four seriously, in the clashes between the protesters demanding the departure of Saleh and building workers at the under-construction stadium in Sayoon, Hadramout.

The demonstration was organized by lawyers and activists and later college and high school students joined it.

More than 30000 protesters were said to have participated.

The workers at the stadium fired at the protesters and hurled stones at them.

Amid the hail of rocks falling on them, the protesters broke into the stadium, arrested six workers and beat them severely. They also damaged a police car and a crank outside the stadium.

During the protest, the people chanted slogans such as: 'the people want to oust the regime', ' depart Ali, before Gaddafi'.

They also carried banners reading: we are all Aden, Sana'a, Taiz, Shabwa, Amran, Hadramout and Ibb, the provinces seeing growing anti-government protests; we are one Yemen…the Yemen of the free; no to excluding the honest military officers; and revolution has become the property of the Saleh family.

Source: Yemen Post

Yemen students to politicians: Don't hijack our revolution

Yemen's political opposition joined youths on the streets of Sana'a for the first time today, but many young people see leaders as trying to tap their movement for the wrong reasons.

By Laura Kasinof

Sana'a- Mar 1, 2011- Yemen's political opposition officially joined youth protesters on the streets of Sanaa for the first time today, swelling the size of the demonstration but also raising fears that the students' revolution would be hijacked for political purposes.

Yemen’s coalition of opposition parties, the Joint Meetings Parties (JMP), deemed today a 'day of rage' – even though Yemen has already had two such days in the past month. But the only leading JMP representative was Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, a man who had close ties with President Ali Abdullah Saleh until suddenly renouncing him yesterday.

Mr. Zindani's loquacious speech about the return of the Islamic caliphate drew many followers of his Islamist Al Islah party, but it had little to do with the demands of the student movement.

Despite demonstrators yelling a periodic “Amen” to his speech, Zindani is seen as a prime example of how politicians and tribal leaders are trying to utilize the youth movement for their own aims, unconnected to students' largely secular demands for an end to corruption and oppression. Many of the young people who are the heart of this grassroots protest movement are adamant that political parties and rivalries have no place in their revolution.

"There is serious concern that a tribal-religious alliance might hijack the revolution, but until now we still don’t see it,” says independent Yemeni political analyst Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani, who said he thought Zindani was joining the protests simply to be on the winning side in Yemen’s current shaky political climate.

Protesters question Zindani, JMP's support

But numerous protesters in attendance today spoke out against the motives of Zindani and the JMP for joining the protest. Despite several members of the JMP publicly stating that they agreed with the demands of the youth movement, they joined the fray weeks after protests began – and, officially, only to protest violence used against protesters in the southern port city of Aden.

“The position of the JMP came late,” says Abdel Malek Sharaf el-Deen, a student, at Tuesday morning’s protest. “Their stance at the beginning was in the middle. It was a passive stance. They only come now after they saw the killing in the streets.”

Some students have softened their negative views of the JMP, which they saw as being too close to the ruling party and unwilling to bring down Mr. Saleh, but say youths must still take the lead in the uprising.

“Even those who don’t want the president to go cannot stop the will of the people,” says law student Mohamed al-Thawr.

Soltan Alsamie, an independent member of parliament agrees: “The snowball of the avalanche is rolling down and its getting bigger and bigger," he says in an interview. "It’s having its own track. It will determine the passage."

“This sit-in will continue even after the revolution to make sure that we have good people in the government, like the Egyptians,” adds Mr. Thawr, the law student sitting under a blue tarp at Tuesday’s protest.

“The issue is not to fix the system. The problem is that we don’t have a system,” he says, referring to lack of centralized rule of law in Yemen.

'We have to work together'

The JMP is itself a divided entity. Some of its leaders were involved in the background in organizing the protests prior to today, especially in the central city of Taiz, home to Yemen’s largest demonstration. But other leaders, chiefly the head of the Islah party, Abdul Wahab al-Anesi, have been slow to join.

“The young people will stay here in spite of whatever the JMP decides,” says Mohamed al-Hababy, an employee at the Interior Ministry who recently resigned from the ruling party. When asked about the amount of corruption at the ministry he simply replied: “I swear, the corruption is up to here,” holding his hand to his neck.

Shaher Ali Mohamed, a doctor who belongs to the socialist party, says neither side can afford to isolate themselves. “We have to work together: the JMP and the youth because we have a very simple target: leave,” he says.

However, when Mr. Mohamed was talking, a group of young men interrupted to reiterate to the doctor that the street protests were dissociated from Yemen’s socialists, the majority of whom come from the south where there formally was a Soviet Union-backed socialist state.

“The JMP may say they will enter. But they are not the leaders of this revolution," says activist Mohammed Mahmoud, who is young and unemployed. "The revolution belongs to the youth."

Source: Christian Science Monitor

New five-year plan to empower Yemeni women

By Sadeq Al-Wesabi

Sana'a- Mar 1, 2011- The Women's National Committee (WNC) issued its fourth five-year plan on Feb. 22nd, that aims to empower Yemeni women in economic, social, educational, cultural and political fields.

The plan seeks to increase the rate of female employment to 30 percent over the next five years. The plan also aims to train 15,000 women and provide them with financial support and jobs opportunities, as well as open new doors for female entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. The plan endeavors to integrate women into the job market and increase their competitiveness in applying for top positions.

Hooria Mashoor, head of the WNC said during a press conference last Tuesday, that all previous plans relating to women have focused solely on issues of health and education, because women working in these fields are considered socially acceptable.

Mashoor told the Yemen Times that the new plan attempts to integrate women into four of the most promising economic fields in Yemen, including fisheries, agriculture, tourism and startup industrial projects. She also stressed the importance of education, describing it as "a cornerstone of women's success."

"We cannot empower women economically or politically if they do not have access to a proper education," she said.

Mashoor indicated that the last three five-year plans were not implemented as required. She said that the government authorities involved lacked skilled employees which negatively affected the implementation of previous plans.

"Corruption and unskilled employees in these sectors put obstacles in the way of the success of these plans. We don't suffer from a financial crisis in Yemen, but from a lack of honest and professional government employees," she explained.

"In some government sectors, employees have been chosen only for political reasons. Those sectors don't hire qualified people who can work well and implement these plans," she said.

She expressed her fears about current events and the unstable political climate in Yemen that, according to her, will hinder implementing the plan. "If there is no political stability in the coming days, the plan will be impeded," she said.

Hana'a Howedi, executive director of the WNC said that many field teams have worked on this plan for months, including the work of different ministries and officials.

In the education sector, Howedi said that the plan endeavors to increase girls' enrollment in schools to 95 percent by 2015, and augment scholarship programs for female students attending university.

According to the Howedi, the plan also aims to reduce the rate of maternal mortality, increase the use of family planning methods, and expand sanitation services.

In the legal and political arena, Howedi said that the plan aims at amending discriminatory language in 32 Yemeni laws. "In addition, the plan will establish special departments to help Yemeni female lawyers and litigators into the courts to argue for their rights," she said.

There are also attempts at curtailing violence against women. Howedi indicated that one of the objectives of the plan is the building of 10 special houses for battered women, and the establishing new departments in police stations to receive domestic violence reports.

Source: Yemen Times