Monday, November 28, 2011

Can Yemen's New Prime Minister Really Bring Peace?

By Daniel Tovrov
November 28, 2011
Living up to his task of rebuilding the national government, Yemen's transitional president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi named opposition leader Mohammed Basindwa as the country's new prime minister on Sunday.
Hadi was vice-president under Ali Abdullah Saleh, who despite making an appearance on Monday and pardoning protestors (although not the ones who tried to kill him by bombing the presidential palace) agreed to step down last week.
In Yemen, the prime minister is the head of the government and is appointed by the president, who is the head of the state. The Council of Ministers, who make up most of the Cabinet, are appointed by the president on the prime minster's recommendation.
Yemen's last Prime Minister, Ali Muhammad Mujawar, was fired by Saleh in March along with other members of the cabinet, but asked to stay on until a new government was formed.
Basindwa has been given the role of forming a new, reconciliation government before presidential elections are held in February.
"A presidential decree issued today ... mandated Mohammed Salem Basindwa to form a government of national unity," news agency Saba reported.
Basindwa served as a foreign minister for Saleh between 1993 to 1994, but left Saleh's ruling General People's Congress a decade ago to become an independent politician.
Basindwa was endorsed by a number of opposition parties for the prime minister position. But will his appointment do enough to stop the unrest and demonstrations in the country?
If Saleh does actually concede power, he will be the fourth Arab leader to do so this year. His 33-year reign was ended after 10 months of protesting, during which hundreds of people died. Anti-government activists were thrilled with Saleh's apparent departure, but his appearance on Monday angered those who hoped Saleh was gone from Yemeni politics for good.
Saleh's departure does open up Yemen to new threats. The former leader had unified the many fractious groups in Yemen by using force and strategic allegiances -- however, now the many tribes and militant groups in the country are finding room to operate since Saleh is weakened.
On Sunday, Shi'ite rebels from the Zaidi sect allegedly attacked a Sunni Islamist school, among other places, in the province of Saada. At least 24 people were killed and 50 wounded, according to Voice of America News.
In the three months leading up to the new presidential elections, Hadi and Basindwa will also have to deal with southern separatists, Salafi tribes and a branch of al-Qaida.

Yemen: Opposition Negotiates New Gov´t, Protests Continue

Sanaa, Nov 28 (Prensa Latina) Opposition member Mohammed Basindwa on Monday started talks on forming a unity government in the country, a management that seems to alienate him from protesters who demand to judge President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Basindwa, an independent politician and former Foreign Minister of the Saleh administration, was commissioned by Vice President and acting President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, according to a decree issued on Sunday as part of the recent agreement for the transition.
The next government will replace the interim one headed by Mohammed Ali Mujawar, which will remain until the completion of early presidential and legislative elections, confirmed on Saturday to take place on February 21, 2012.
According to officials close to Hadi, the appointed Prime Minister in a week will constitute a cabinet with equal participation of opposition members in the coalition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and the ruling General People's Congress (GPC).
The procedure is part of an initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), supported by the United States and European Union, signed on Wednesday by Saleh in Saudi Arabia to transfer his powers to Hadi, in exchange for judicial immunity for him and his family.

Nobel Peace Laureate Calls for ICC Yemen Probe

By MIKE CORDER Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands November 28, 2011 (AP)
Nobel peace laureate Tawakkul Karman urged the International Criminal Court prosecutor Monday to launch an investigation into the violent crackdown on dissent in Yemen by the country's former president.
But Karman also lamented that her request stands little chance of success since Yemen is not a member of the court and she called for a stronger mechanism for bringing to account dictators who turn on their own people to cling to power.
Because Yemen has not signed the court's founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the only way the prosecutor could launch an investigation is if the United Nations Security Council tells him to.
"This is unfair," Karman said on the steps of the court's headquarters. "They have to find a new way to bring everyone who is killing his people to here, to this building."
Karman visited the court to present Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo with a file on crimes she said were committed by the regime of Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Saleh stepped down last week in a deal that promised him immunity from prosecution, but Karman said she was at the court "to tell them, 'Don't allow any one to give Saleh and his regime any immunity.'"
Karman won the Nobel Peace Prize this year for her role in the protest movement that forced Saleh's ouster.
"I promised the people in Yemen ... that after they announced I won the Nobel Peace Prize that the first job I will do is taking the file of crimes of Ali Saleh to the ICC," she said on the steps of the court's headquarters. "I am here to tell the ICC they have to try Ali Saleh and all his regime when they kill people."
Saleh stubbornly clung to power despite nearly 10 months of huge street protests in which hundreds of people were killed by his security forces. At one point, Saleh's palace mosque was bombed and he was treated in Saudi Arabia for severe burns.
Saleh signed the U.S.-backed power-transfer deal, brokered by neighboring countries, on Wednesday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. It officially transferred power to his vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
But many in the country doubt the deal marked the end of Saleh's political life, and tens of thousands of protesters in Yemen, who have distanced themselves from the formal opposition movement, rejected the immunity clause, saying Saleh should face justice for allegations of corruption by his regime as well as the recent bloodshed as his forces try to put down the uprising against his 33-year rule.

President Saleh urges ruling party, opposition to abide by Gulf initiative

SANA’A, Nov. 28 (Saba)- President Ali Abdullah Saleh has decreed a general amnesty for all those who have committed errors during the crisis.
At a meeting for the General Committee of the General People's Congress (GPC) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Sana’a, President Saleh said that the amnesty does not include those involved in crime and in the attack against the mosque at the presidential palace.
He added that suspects who are members of political parties, groups or individuals will be brought to trial.
Following is the text of the speech delivered by President Saleh.
This meeting comes after the signing of the Gulf initiative and its implementation mechanism, which was supposed to have been signed earlier, but, unfortunately, some parties procrastinated on the format and terms of the time-tabled mechanism, leading to the delay of the initiative that was supposed to have been signed earlier to end the growing crisis in the homeland, which has caused great damage to the development, social, cultural, and political fields as well as all other fields.
This initiative and its implementation mechanism were supposed to have been signed and implemented earlier. We inform you that the initiative was signed in Riyadh under the patronage of King Abdullah Bin-Abdul-Aziz and in the presence of the GCC foreign ministers and ambassadors of the countries which are permanent members of the UN Security Council. God willing, this initiative and its implementation mechanism will find a way for implementation without delay, objection, or excuses.
The initiative and its mechanism make up an integrated formula that specifies when and how the initiative and its mechanism are implemented. Neither the opposition nor the ruling party can be selective about what to implement of the initiative or the mechanism. A dialogue should be held under the auspices of Vice President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi and whomever he chooses from the leadership of the General People's Congress and the National Democratic Alliance in order to develop timelines. Those who procrastinate will bear the responsibility, as the GCC secretary general and UN envoy to Yemen must be informed to know who is hampering the process.
Another point is that after the signing of the initiative, it is only natural for things to go back to normal. Banditry, blocking roads, demonstrations, sit-ins, and attacks against military camps and power pylons must stop in order to establish social peace. This is an integrated system that paves the way for moving forward in implementing the initiative and the mechanism, thus being selective and washing hands of responsibility are not accepted in any way.
Any attacks and disruption of security must be condemned, even if by the opposition - the so-called Joint Meeting Parties and its allies and associates - or by the regime. The country cannot afford more than it has done in the past 10 months; it has endured much and they have destroyed a lot. The things that have been destroyed were not ordinary, but they were established in difficult circumstances and accomplished through the togetherness and cooperation of all the sincere and patriotic people of this country. We should preserve what is left and rebuild the damages caused by this crisis.
I consider the signing in Riyadh a victory for the Yemeni people, as there are no winners or losers. It is a victory for the Yemeni people and their free will. Those who talk of losers and winners are mentally ill. This is nonsense. The media must adopt a policy of appeasement. This must be adopted by all sides: the government, ruling party and its allies, and the so-called JMP.
Here we are today after this great achievement, which was blessed by the whole world and all international organizations, including the United Nations, European Union, United States, GCC, Arab countries, and all international organizations including civil society organizations. They consider this a great achievement that avoided a plan to divide the homeland. All the statements we have heard support maintaining the unity, security, and stability of the country. Those at home and abroad who adopt unacceptable agendas after the achievement of unity in 1990 must understand these messages. This is a mad agenda.
But everyone is looking for a role saying "I will be." No, it is still "today." Every age, a new state and new men arise. Our country is full of politicians and honest men. I remember I gave a speech during t he 2006 elections and said that the presidential term is seven years but that I will rule for only five. Another point I would like to make is that at the beginning of the crisis I said that it will end in February. I said this, and those words did not come out of the blue; we know the givens and what is going on in the country. We are looking for a way out for those whose faces have turned black, and I remember I said in a speech in Hajjah that the day will come when some faces will turn black and others will be lit, where he compares those who do shameful acts with those who do good deeds. Here we are today, there are some whose faces have turned black and are unable to go back to what they were originally. Blackened! It is a beautiful thing to see that it is hard for those whose faces have turned black to return to their original state, what a shame.
Anyway, our people are steadfast and bear hardships, power outages, and lack of fuel and food supplies for the sake of the country not for the sake of unsound leaders, whether currently ruling or seek to rule. If those leaders are unsound and come to power, they must go to hospitals for treatment in order to reach safety.
Today's meeting is to inform our brothers of the outcomes of the Riyadh meetings. The leaders in Riyadh were satisfied with the arrival of Yemenis to sign the initiative. Now, you must support the vice president, stand as one entity, and shoulder full responsibility. The initiative is clear and you must not deviate from the initiative and its mechanism, you can but seek its provisions. We welcome their partnership and we welcome them as partners in the government during the 90-day transitional period, which will be followed by presidential elections. The coalition will continue, but people change, and may God help you. I hope this meeting elects its government members in accordance with an agreement and dialogue between the vice president and other parties about how to choose and determine portfolios. The vice president has to make a quick decision of nominating the prime minister if officially nominated by the opposition parties under the initiative and its mechanism.
This is what I wanted to talk about in this meeting, and I also wanted to thank the steadfast people for their good feelings, interest, and following the events in Riyadh. I thank the brothers who came to Riyadh to attend the signing ceremony. The initiative has been signed, and what matters is goodwill and good heart after the signing.
Thank you very much for listening.