x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Yemen leaders agree to open reform dialogue

Yemen's ruling party and the opposition coalition have signed an agreement to start a national dialogue and discuss political and electoral reforms.

SANA'A // Yemen's ruling party, the General People's Congress, and the Joint Meeting Parties, an opposition coalition of six parties, signed an agreement yesterday to start a national dialogue and discuss political and electoral reforms. The accord, which was signed in the presidential palace and under the patronage of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, stated that it was meant to implement an agreement signed by both groups in February 2009. At that time, the two parties agreed to postpone last year's scheduled parliamentary election by two years to carry out electoral and constitutional reforms. However, the dialogue since then on the issues to be addressed before the 2011 election has reached a deadlock. Under the new accord, the two sides agreed to provide a chance for all political parties and non-governmental organisations to discuss the necessary constitutional amendments for developing and improving the political and electoral system, the agreement stated. Dialogue will continue, the agreement said, with the formation of a joint 200-member committee representing all political forces. A meeting will be held to nominate representatives in the committee. The committee's meeting will be publicly televised and its resolutions will be binding on those involved. Mr Saleh considered the accord as a major breakthrough in the political scene of Yemen, which is facing a sporadic insurgency in the north, a growing secessionist movement in the south, economic hardship throughout the country and a rise in the number of attacks by al Qa'eda. "This is a positive step towards political detente ? and it opens a new political phase as the nation is for all people, not only for the ruling party or opposition," Mr Saleh told reporters after the signing, and renewed a call he made in May to the opposition to form a national unity government. On Saturday the president also insisted that parliamentary elections should take place on time in April, in line with February agreement. malqadhi@thenational.ae