Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Two Civilians Killed in Aden

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Sana'a, Apr 26, 2011- At least one person was killed and 13 others, including eight women were wounded in Yemen's southern port of Aden.

Sources said that gunmen, belonging to Southern Movement in Aden province intercepted a pro-Saleh rally from women and fired live bullets in the air to disperse the rally, killing one civilian and wounding 13 others.

In response Yemen's security forces interfered to protect women using teargas and batons to disperse Southern Movement militants in Khor Makser district.

Medical and eyewitnesses told the Yemen Post that two people were shot dead, including a woman during the clashes.

Migrants still flowing to Yemen despite crisis: IOM

By Martina Fuchs


DUBAI, Apr 26, 2011- Migrants and refugees from the Horn of Africa are still flowing into Yemen, where protesters are demanding the end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule, the International Organisation for Migration said on Tuesday.

Hassan Abdel Moneim Mostafa, a Middle East regional adviser for the IOM, said Yemen's crisis was complicating efforts to provide aid to African migrants and Yemenis displaced by an on-off civil war in the north.

"The challenges we have in Yemen are the inflows from Djibouti, from Ethiopia, from Somalia," he said in a telephone interview. "In March 2011, we have seen 9,000 new arrivals at the coast of Yemen. I think the number is growing every month."

Yemen's Western and Gulf allies have tried to mediate a solution to a three-month crisis in which protesters, inspired by the ouster of autocratic regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, have demanded the end of Saleh's 32-year rule.

Apart from economic and political turmoil, Yemen hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants from the Horn of Africa who risk perilous sea crossings on what they see as a transit route to richer Gulf countries.

The IOM has said the number of migrants landing in Yemen from the Horn of Africa, mainly Ethiopians in search of work and asylum-seekers from Somalia, has dramatically increased in recent months as human smugglers take advantage of the political instability in the country.

The IOM said it would resume evacuations of Ethiopian migrants stranded in Yemen, and help some 2,400 Ethiopians return home in the coming weeks.

Mostafa said IOM's food assistance program in al-Jawf governorate in the north of Yemen had come to a standstill due to tensions between rival tribes and fighting between the government and the rebel Houthi movement.

"We were mostly involved in food distribution, but this has stopped in northern Yemen. We are heavily involved in medical assistance in the north, in al-Jawf, this is continuing in collaboration with the government," Mostafa said.

"Food supply has been disrupted completely," he said. "We intend to re-initiate the food assistance in the north within the coming weeks, I hope."

Nearly a third of the 23 million people in Yemen don't have enough food, and unrest makes it difficult for aid groups to reach them.

Yemen will need $224 million in 2011 for humanitarian aid that will improve food, health, water and sanitation for women and children, the U.N. told Reuters in March.

"We hope we can build the international capacity of Yemen once the situation becomes more calm, because we can't really continue in this environment," Mostafa said.

Yemen's Ruling Party and Opposition Coalition to Sign Deal in Riyadh soon

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Sana'a, Apr 26, 2011- Yemen's opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties, JMP, and the ruling General People Congress party will soon sign in Saudi Arabia a deal brokered by Gulf Cooperation Council for the President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down within a month and to have peaceful transition power.

Mohammed Salem Bassindwa, head of opposition's national dialogue council, told media outlets that he expected soon to sign the initiative by the Gulf Cooperation Council.

"We have approved the Gulf Arab initiative and the signing of the agreement will take place in the next 24 hours," he said.

Yesterday evening, Yemen's opposition coalition accepted the latest political deal brokered by Arab diplomats to remove President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in exchange for immunity for himself and his relatives, clearing the way for the country’s first political transition in its modern history.

The proposed deal has the backing of the United States and Yemen’s Arab neighbors including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Diplomats from these nations lobbied both sides over the weekend to accept the deal, amid increasing worry that the widespread Al Qaeda networks that have taken refuge in Yemen will capitalize on the country’s political crisis to launch new terrorist attacks.

Under the deal, the president is obligated to hand over power to his vice president 30 days after the plan is formally accepted by the leader and the umbrella group of opposition parties.

On Saturday, the ruling party announced that President Ali Abdullah Saleh accepted to hand over power within a month.

GCC plan seems less welcome amid lukewarm Yemeni acceptance

By Fuad Rajeh, Wang Qiuyun

SANAA, April 26 (Xinhua) -- The proposal raised by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to tackle the Yemeni crisis seems less successful amid lukewarm acceptance of the Yemeni government and the opposition, and observers doubt that the unrest will continue to affect the country and its economy.

Several anti-government protesters were killed on Monday and hundreds of others injured as the unrest continued in major Yemeni cities, mainly by young people who rejected the GCC proposal and vowed to escalate their protests.

Yemeni Trade and Industry Minister Hisham Sharaf said on Monday that the unrest has directly hit Yemeni tourism, foreign trade and investment, as well as exports, mainly oil exports. It has cost the country almost 5 billion U.S. dollars.

Hisham hoped that the political rivals will sit at the table to address the crisis in an effort to help the national economy.

"We appreciate any effort conducive to Yemen's stability, but if we go into details, we find out that our main and firm demands were not met through the proposal. Also, we saw the West-backed effort focusing on the government and the opposition," said Hosam al Sharjabi, a spokesman for the youth protesting outside Sanaa University.

"The international community should not deal with Yemen out of their own interests; we will not accept any initiative except the one calling for an immediate ouster of Saleh and opening trials for the officials responsible for corruption and killing the anti-government protesters," he said.

President Saleh has said that he accepted the Gulf deal and was ready to quit, but later he emerged to say that the power transfer should be realized through ballot boxes.

Saleh also repeatedly told media that any initiative for power transfer in Yemen should guarantee respect for the Yemeni constitution, and analysts doubted that he may sign an agreement but violate it later.

"The proposal remains welcome, while the situation requires respecting the constitutional legitimacy and the public choice, and a peaceful and democratic power succession through the ballot boxes," said Deputy Information Minister Abdul Janadi.

He added, "Even if President Saleh accepts resignation, the people will reject that and insist on his stay in power."

"The Yemeni people are demanding the president stay in office because they had voted for him. They also urged him not to accept any mediation or initiative because the opposition is inciting chaos and wants to reach power by illegal ways," said al Janadi.

The GCC effort appeared to be successful but what President Saleh and opposition officials said proved the opposite, observers said.

Saleh used to be changeable, and concerns really remained that he may do something different or unconventional at the end, said Abdullah al Faqih, a professor of politics at Sanaa University.

"The political rivals have been discussing some options and offers including the Gulf power transfer proposal, but I think this will never end the boiling of Yemen," he added.

Observers said on Monday that the GCC proposal could not survive as the protests continued in Yemen.

"The initiative by the GCC member states was too late and it would have been successful if it had come before the people took to the streets," said Nabil al Bukairy, a researcher.

"With the Gulf effort being focused on a crisis, it also did the government a favor as now the people looked at the opposition as a negative component because it agreed to accept the GCC plan," he said.

Muhammad Qahtan, a spokesman for the opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), announced on Monday that it has fully accepted the recent GCC plan, but said later that JMP officially accepted the plan but still had objections on some terms, specifically the one calling for forming a national unity government and being sworn in in front of Saleh.

Last week, the GCC continued to push their effort over the situation in Yemen, sending a delegation led by GCC Secretary General Abdul Latif al Zayani to hold talks with government and opposition officials.

Under the final Gulf proposal, Saleh has to resign in a month and transfer power to his deputy within a week after the process starts. A national unity government will be formed by members of the current government, the opposition and other political forces.

The proposal also said the parliament will meet in 29 days to grant immunity to Saleh and his family members; and on the 30th day, Saleh will officially announce his resignation in parliament.

Qahtan said last Friday that the opposition accepted the GCC plan, but the newly-elected leaders of the youth-led street protesters refused to grant immunity to Saleh or his family members after hundreds of their followers were allegedly killed by Saleh's forces.

Yemen’s Opposition Accepts Deal for Transfer of Power


April 25, 2011

Yemen’s opposition coalition on Monday accepted a proposal for a transfer of power, bringing the country closer to a resolution of months of political turmoil and countless demonstrations calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

“We have accepted the gulf proposal on condition that the protests are allowed to continue until Saleh leaves office,” said Mohammed Qahtan, a spokesman for the coalition, which is known as the J.M.P. “Leaders of the J.M.P. met with the American ambassador today, and he confirmed for us that the protests can continue through this month; this is why we agreed to the proposal.”

However, when Mr. Saleh announced, on Saturday, his acceptance of the plan from a six-nation regional bloc known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, his agreement was based on the condition that the protest demonstrations would stop immediately.

The proposal, which was put together by the council in consultation with the United States and the European Union, was presented to the Yemeni government and the opposition last week. It was seen as probably the last effort to solve the political crisis that had brought Yemen, an already fragile country, closer to chaos. An economic crisis looms, and violence between armed gunmen and security forces in outlying provinces has increased over the last week. At least 120 protesters have been killed since the uprising began in February, according to Amnesty International.

If the two sides formally agree to the proposal, the president would leave office after 30 days and a presidential election would be held 60 days later, in accordance with Yemen’s Constitution.

The political opposition has also agreed to participate in a unity government with Mr. Saleh, which would govern during the 30 days before he leaves office. The opposition had initially objected to this provision.

The agreement, however, also signals a deepening rift between the political opposition and the street protesters who had already rejected the Gulf Cooperation Council’s proposal. The protesters do not trust that Mr. Saleh will leave office as the mediated settlement required, and they do not think that he and his family should be granted immunity, which is called for in the agreement.

Witnesses said that the protest demonstration in Sana, the capital, had grown since the president announced that he had accepted the proposal, and protesters were angered by Mr. Saleh’s comments in an interview with the BBC that members of Al Qaeda had infiltrated protest camps.

Source: The New York Times