Yemeni clerics disapprove of their exclusion from the National Dialogue
SANA’A, July 4 — It is expected that a presidential decree will be issued to set up a preparatory committee in preparation for the National Dialogue.
On Wednesday, President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi received the liaison committee report. The committee was established at the beginning of May in order to contact all political stakeholders and invite them to participate in the dialogue.
The Gulf Initiative, signed Nov. 23 by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh with the opposition coalition in attendance, stipulates that there must be a National Dialogue in which all political stakeholders will take part.
The liaison committee has held meetings with each of the Yemeni factions that did not cosign the Gulf Initiative. The committee worked from May until the end of June in a bid to convince the stakeholders to accept the dialogue.
On Sunday, a committee press release said the report will be handed over to the president. It includes recommendations from all the factions with which the committee communicated.
Nadia Al-Sakkaf, spokeswoman for the liaison committee, said the committee was in contact with the Houthis, civil society organizations and southern movement factions.
“They all show willingness to take part in the dialogue,” she said.
She said the first committee achievement was reaching an agreement with the Houthis and some southern movement factions who approved of the dialogue.
Some southern movement leaders refused the dialogue, though, due to a lasting mistrust of the former regime. Various other issues have contributed to the mistrust, such as poor preparation for the dialogue, unresolved demands from retirees, and the shut-down of Al-Ayam newspaper, according to Al-Sakkaf.
The Houthis declared their acceptance of dialogue by the end of May.
“The Houthis are a political stakeholder with a clear ideology. Ansar Al-Sharia have no political ideology and they don’t count themselves as a political faction. Thus, they have not been contacted,” Al-Sakkaf said.
The liaison committee said in a press release that it met Jamal Benomar, U.N. Special Envoy to Yemen, and updated him on the progress made through Saturday.
“The U.N. envoy to Yemen commended the tasks that the committee is responsible for in order to communicate with all factions who didn’t sign the Gulf Initiative,” the committee said.
The committee quoted Benomar as saying, “I have closely been following the tasks achieved by the liaison committee through the U.N. office in Yemen, which holds international experience based on previous national dialogues in different countries.”
He added, “I consider the liaison committee task successful. It is tasked with inviting the factions who didn’t sign the Gulf Initiative. This happened successfully.”
Benomar said challenges were expected, and U.N. Resolution 2051 asserts the importance of dialogue during Yemen’s transitional period.
The Yemeni Clerics Authority held a press conference to express disapproval with their exclusion from the dialogue, slated to begin in the coming days.
In a statement, cleric Abdu Al-Majeed Al-Zindani said, “When we heard about the National Dialogue and the liaison committee responsible for preparing for a National Dialogue, we expected the committee would contact the clerics just like other factions. The committee ended its task; we were not invited.”