x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Houthi rebels to be represented on committee

Three rebel leaders will have a seat on a national dialogue committee that will discuss political reforms but the separatist movement thinks it is not enough.

SANA'A // Three Houthi rebel leaders will have a seat on a national dialogue committee that will discuss political reforms, according to a list of representatives submitted by the ruling party and the opposition yesterday. General People's Congress, Yemen's ruling party, and the Joint Meeting Parties, a opposition coalition that includes Islah, Yemen's main Islamist party, and the Socialist Party, exchanged the names of their representatives at the Cultural Centre in the capital.

Each side presented a list of 100 names of people who will take part in the dialogue committee whose mandate has not been fixed yet. Among the names with the opposition are Mohammed Abdulsalam, Saleh Habrah and Yousef al Fishi, three leaders in the Houthi rebels who have been fighting a sporadic war against the government since 2004. The two sides agreed on July 17 to provide a chance for all political parties and non-governmental organisations to discuss the necessary changes to the constitution that will develop and improve the political system.

Two days after the accord was sealed, the rebels released a statement of support for "a comprehensive dialogue which excludes no one". However, the separatist southern movement said this agreement did not mean anything to them. "This is a good step towards softening the political congestion in the country. It is also a step forward to boost the confidence between the two sides. However, we expect to see disagreement over the interpretation of the accord which is better to discuss in such meetings," said Sami Ghalib, the editor of al Nidaa, an independent weekly newspaper based in Sana'a.

In February 2009, the ruling party and opposition agreed to delay the parliamentary elections previously scheduled for April 2009 to April 2011 so they could introduce political and electoral reforms in the country which is facing a myriad of challenges including an insurgency in the north, a growing secessionist movement in the south as well as al Qa'eda. @Email:malqadhi@thenational.ae