Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yemen to Inaugurate Saleh's Successor on Monday

February 23, 2012
The inauguration of Yemen's newly- elected president, likely to be incumbent Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, will take place on Monday, which officially marks the end of outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule, Yemeni government officials said on Thursday.
"The inauguration of Saleh's successor is set for Monday in a grand ceremony that will be attended by outgoing President Saleh who will hand over the presidential palace to Hadi," said Abdu al- Janadi, Yemen's deputy information minister and spokesman of Saleh 's General People's Congress (GPC) party.
Saleh, who agreed to step down under a UN-backed deal in November last year in return for immunity from prosecution, left Yemen for New York last month for medical treatment. He was injured in a bomb attack on his palace on June 3, 2011, and was hospitalized for months in neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Al-Janadi did not give exact date for Saleh's return, but he told Xinhua that the veteran leader will lead his GPC party, as well as "take responsible for making new leaders prepare themselves for running presidential elections in the future after the end of Hadi's two-year interim period."
Meanwhile, electoral officials told reporters Thursday that the results of the one-candidate presidential vote will be officially declared this evening at 20:00 local time (1700 GMT).
Hadi is widely expected to win the high-turnout landmark vote. So far, initial reports put the turnout at about 80 percent.
66-year-old Hadi has pledged to launch reforms during his transitional term and asked for international aid. He is set to launch a national dialogue with all political factions in Yemen after he takes office, as well as pay more attention to combat the resurgents of al-Qaida off-shoot.
The early presidential election came as part of a negotiated settlement initiated by neighboring oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries with the aim of ending the one-year-old massive protests against Saleh.
The election, which was boycotted by northern Houthi-led Shiite rebels and southern separatist group, won support from the United Nations Security Council, the European Union, the United States, and the GCC countries.

Yemen troops kill secessionist demonstrator in south

ADEN, Yemen, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Yemeni troops opened fire on Thursday on a rally by southern secessionists opposed to this week's presidential election, killing one protester and wounding three others, an activist said.
Yemenis voted for a new president on Tuesday after a year-long uprising ousted long-serving ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Secessionists who want to revive a socialist southern state which was unified with the north in 1990 by Saleh, opposed the vote in which Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Saleh's long-time right-hand and former army general, was the sole candidate.
"Soldiers shot at people celebrating the (southern) boycott of the elections. One person died in my arms before we could get him to a hospital," activist Hassan al-Jilani said from the city of Mukalla in southeastern Hadramout province.
Shi'ite rebels in the north, who were left out of a deal to ease Saleh out of power through the election, also opposed the vote.
The vote was backed by the United States and Yemen's rich neighbours led by Saudi Arabia, which - alarmed at signs of al Qaeda exploiting the disorder wracking the country to strengthen its regional foothold - sponsored the peace deal signed in November providing for Saleh to hand power to Hadi.

Yemen loses a dictator, but not his shadow

Yemen elected a new president this week, but one of the conditions for the vote was complete amnesty for the ousted longtime dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Whether that amnesty will eventually be overturned has implications for Yemen, and other dictators in the region.
By Andrew G. Reiter / February 23, 2012
After 33 years, Yemen is finally rid of its autocratic ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh – but not necessarily free of his shadow.
With hope in their hearts, Yemenis surged to the polls this week to elect his replacement as president, the US-backed Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Mr. Hadi holds the possibility for a peaceful transition in this fourth country to lose a dictator in the Arab Spring uprising.
But Mr. Hadi was vice president in the Saleh regime as well as the only candidate on the ballot. And there’s another problematic side to this election. Mr. Saleh, who is in the United States receiving medical treatment, will not be going to jail, at least not for the foreseeable future.
To smooth the path to his departure, Yemen’s parliament granted him a broad amnesty. It covers all crimes committed by Saleh during his entire rule, including the killings of hundreds of protesters over the last year.
Amnesty is still a central component of many political transitions despite the global expansion and promotion of trials for human rights violations.
Yet the Saleh case, depending on its long-term outcome, could potentially make such bargains less likely in the future, with an uncertain effect on global human rights.
Yemen exemplifies the political usefulness of amnesty. After mass protests against his rule began early last year, Saleh engaged in several rounds of negotiations for his extradition. In October, he agreed to leave office under a framework designed by the regional Gulf Cooperation Council, a key component of which was a wide-ranging immunity provision.
Parliament’s recent passage of the law was linked to the nomination of Vice President Hadi for the presidency – Saleh’s supporters refused to approve the nomination until the amnesty was in place. The amnesty has thus served to facilitate the final political bargain that enables a transition in Yemen.
It should not be a surprise that the Gulf Council would incorporate amnesty as part of its framework; setting a regional precedent for immunity is in the interest of the six monarchies which make up the council, all with their own skeletons in the closet. Likewise, mindful of former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak on trial, Saleh and his party leaders predictably insisted on immunity as part of any deal.
Indeed, the recent push for accountability of former dictators around the world – from Chilean Augusto Pinochet and Peruvian Alberto Fujimori to Liberia’s Charles Taylor and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir – may make existing leaders more insistent on amnesty provisions in any future transitions from power.
Yet Yemen also illustrates the increasing limitations of amnesty. The law has received sharp criticism from the UN and human rights organizations. More importantly, tens of thousands of youth protesters in Yemen marched in opposition to the amnesty, vowing to work to have Saleh and his associates put on trial.
These developments forced an eleventh-hour amendment that actually restricted the law’s coverage. Rather than full amnesty for all of Saleh’s civilian and military aides, they only received political immunity and can be held accountable for criminal or terrorist acts, though Saleh himself still goes completely free.
Yet even Saleh’s full amnesty is unlikely to last long given the current global environment. While it took over a decade, the amnesty included as part of Pinochet’s negotiated transition from power was overturned, and he spent the last years of his life under house arrest. Similarly, Taylor was granted exile in Nigeria as part of the 2003 peace agreement that orchestrated his removal from power, but he was released by Nigeria just three years later to stand trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Countless other leaders around the world have also faced prosecution for human rights violations after amnesty laws, which they believed provided them protection, were revoked by legislatures or overturned by court rulings.
In a few years, it would not be surprising to see Saleh behind bars as well, but the implications of such a development are not entirely clear for the protection of global human rights. One wonders just how long existing authoritarian leaders will be willing to strike this type of bargain to transition from rule if amnesties continue to be revoked and former dictators hunted down.
The result of such a development may be to encourage them instead to hold on to power at all costs, leading to more cases like Syria, where clashes between the regime and protesters have intensified, resulting in over 5,000 dead this past year.
Yemen thus represents a crucial case for the evolution of international law, the long-term developments of which may determine whether or not amnesty remains entrenched as a key component of political transitions, or if Saleh becomes the last example of a dictator foolishly believing he could safely step down from power and avoid jail.
Andrew G. Reiter, assistant professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., is a scholar of transitional justice, international law and political violence.

Yemen's outgoing leader leaves U.S.

WASHINGTON, February 23, 2012 (AP) — Yemen's outgoing president has left the U.S. after more than three weeks of medical treatment.
U.S. officials say Ali Abdullah Saleh departed Boston late Wednesday for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
They said they didn't know his future plans. Saleh has pledged to return to Yemen for his successor's inauguration.
Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to talk publicly about Saleh's travel plans. An Arab diplomat confirmed Saleh's departure.
Saleh's 33-year rule is coming to an end. Yemenis installed Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi Tuesday in a single-candidate referendum. He's expected to be inaugurated soon. That will make Saleh the fourth Arab Spring leader to be pushed from power.
The 69-year-old Saleh had been receiving treatment for wounds suffered in a June assassination attempt.

World Hails Yemeni presidential election

By Fatik Al-Rodaini
Sana'a, February 23, 2012- World hails Yemeni early presidential election which took place on Tuesday in the whole country as an important step forward democracy in Yemen to replace former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down from his position in November 2011 due to violent protests and uprisings in Yemen against his regime.
The presidential election in Yemen has been lauded by several countries and organizations, including the USA, Britain, Spain, Russia, Untied Nations and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
The UN Security Council welcomed the Feb. 21 presidential election held in Yemen.
The Council congratulated the people of Yemen for the overall peaceful manner in which the elections were held and the encouraging levels of participation.
On the other hand, The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Yemenis on the high participation in the presidential election, considering that "a clear expression of the sincere desire for the peaceful change."
Ban Ki-moon said that the goal is to "achieve unity and security" in Yemen, stressing "the importance that the work on a full national dialogue without exclusion and the Constitution revision."
He urged all parties to "prepare the program of reforms to face the economic, humanitarian and security challenges faced by Yemen at the present."
The UN envoy to Yemen, Jamal bin Omar said on Tuesday that February 21 is a historic day kept Yemen away from the risk of a civil war and opened up horizons of new future and broad political participation. Conforming that the election was carried out in safe atmosphere compared to the pain Yemenis have suffered from previously.
He stressed that it is not the right of any one to impede election or use violence for political purposes, according to the UN resolution 2014.
From its part, the EU confirmed that the success of the early presidential election in Yemen will pave the way for building a modern civil state that indeed meets the needs of all Yemenis.
In a statement released Wednesday in Brussels by High Representative of the EU foreign policy, Catherine Ashton said that “the presidential election is an important achievement for the transitional process in Yemen”, pointing that this election opens a new chapter in the history of the country, a chapter presents a promise for the change that is long overdue for the Yemeni people.
The statement denounced impeding the election by violence, especially in Aden and the southern provinces, stressing at the same time the need to hold accountable those responsible for these acts of violence.
On the other hand, Speaker of European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has considered February 21 a historic day for Yemen.

In a statement released Wednesday in Brussels, Schulz pointed out that the participation in the election highlighted the presence of overwhelming support for the process of democratic transition, congratulating Yemeni people on the success of the election.
Meanwhile, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) expressed on Wednesday satisfaction with the success of the Yemen's early presidential election taken place on Tuesday.
In its statement, GCC said "The success of the presidential election and the large turnout heralds that security and stability would be brought back to Yemen."
The statement pointed to the GCC's observation delegation visits to a number of polling stations, saying the Gulf observers had expressed satisfaction at the high level turnout of voters.
The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also praised the presidential election held on February 21, in Yemen, affirming that it is an important step in the process of democratization in the country.
” On behalf of the United States, I want to congratulate the people of Yemen on the current successful presidential election”, Clinton said in a statement.
She noted that it is just the first step in a long and complex process of transformation and still need all the steps following the process of political and constitutional reform.
The presidential election sends a clear message to the world that the Yemeni people are looking forward to a brighter future and democracy, Clinton added.
Clinton confirmed that the U.S. and its partners would continue its support to Yemen, because Yemen has worked to implement the reforms and to face the challenges, so that Yemeni people can achieve their aspirations and ambitions.
Russia also praised on Wednesday the success of the early presidential election held on Tuesday.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a news conference held in Moscow that "Russia welcomes the efforts of the Yemeni authorities that ensured presidential elections to be held as scheduled."
He said that the large participation in the election indicated the majority population's keenness on succeeding the political process in order to normalize the country's social and economic situations, maintain its territorial integrity.
"We hope that all Yemeni parties will spare no effort to resolve the priority issues and cooperate constructively with the new president-elect," Lukashevich said.
He stressed his country's keenness on continuing to present assistance to Yemen to settle all interior issues.
Britain has welcomed the presidential elections that took place last Tuesday in Yemen, which witnessed a high turnout of voters.
 “The high turnout witnessed by the voting process, including the turnout of women, affirms the government's commitment to the laws of the transitional phase", British Foreign Secretary, William Hague said in a statement.
The Yemenis, through the large turnout, have affirmed their rejection of attempts to impede the election, Hague added.
Also, he noted that the Yemen election is an important stage in the implementation of the political change plan, sponsored by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
He urged Yemenis to work together for the future of their country, renewing at the same time his country's support for the political process in Yemen.
The French government on Thursday welcomed the holding of the presidential ballot in Yemen earlier this week and said it was "an important step" in peaceful transition in that country.
France "expresses its congratulation, its support and confidence in Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi," who was former deputy leader and the only candidate in this week's ballot.
"It is important now that all parties show they are capable of reaching the aspirations for contributing in a responsible, constructive and peaceful manner to the success of the democratic process," the statement added, urging Yemenis to work for unity and prosperity.
"The elections is a new step in the peaceful and orderly transition undertaken in Yemen on the basis of the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council States, which was agreed by the Yemeni parties and supported by the (UN) Security Council," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
On Thursday China welcomed holding the presidential election last Tuesday in Yemen.
In a press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei pinned hopes on restoring the situation in Yemen to normal after the election as soon as possible.
Lei voiced his country's hopes that "all the concerned sides to exert joint efforts to ensure a peaceful and organized political transition to return the social system to normal and realize the stability and development in the country."
Spain also welcomed the presidential election that took place last Tuesday in Yemen, considering it a major step towards the democratic transition and the start of a new phase in Yemen's history.
Spanish Foreign Ministry renewed in a statement Wednesday its full support for democratic transition process in Yemen.
It confirmed its intention to continue to work with the Yemeni government and the various spectra of Yemeni society to face the future challenges in various fields
Millions of Yemenis cast Tuesday votes in the early presidential election, in which the sole consensus candidate is Vice President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi according to the GCC-brokered and UN-backed initiative signed in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, last November.
After a year of unrest and bloody clashes between supporters and opponents of President Ali Abdallah Saleh, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) helped broker a deal that provided for Saleh's departure and immunity after more than three decades in power.
The presidential poll and the national dialogue conference are part of the peace deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh signed the deal in November 2011 in return for immunity from prosecution, a move that saw him hand over power to his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the only consensus candidate in Tuesday's poll.
As new president, Hadi will lead a two-year transitional government tasked with amending the constitution and holding parliamentary elections.