Governor of Aden Waheed Rasheed to the Yemen Times: “I assure you that Aden will be a safe city in the months to come, just as it was in the
Aden governorate has witnessed several changes in security and services since President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi was inauguarated. Among these changes was appointing Waheed Rasheed as governor of Aden. He was appointed at a time during which Aden suffers from finding itself in a security vacuum, with disorder on several sides.
Rasheed is attempting to find solutions for the situation in the governorate, in spite of the obstacles and challenges.
The Yemen Times met Rasheed to talk about several issues regarding the governorate.
Who is at the helm of Aden governorate nowadays?
Authority is a compound, intricate issue. I took the helm of Aden governorate in exceptional circumstances and at a time when services were almost deteriorated. I was authorized to master the governorate. The major mission was to resolve the problems governorate offices have been undergoing.
The more these offices collaborate with one another and appear administratively competent, the stronger the decrees will be. If the governorate offices are going through exceptional times as they are now, then administrative decisions will endure many problems. We endeavor to build harmony between all the urgent issues in the governorate so that we grant power to the decrees set for the sake of the governorate.
When I assumed the responsibility of the governorate, dozens of facilities were out of work and paralyzed. And the general managers had been off duty for a long time. That contributed to hindering administrative decisions.
What about the labor strike, where workers demanded their rights in the governorate? What has been done about this issue?
The country was in state of political turmoil in general. The employees came out into the streets in protest. Many of them protested against the authoritarian managers. Thus, the strikes were politicized.
Of course, there was violation of people's rights for a long period. It was not dealt with positively. Since my appointment as governor, I faced strikes at the Ministry of Public Works and Highways, Al-Jamhouri Hospital and the Finance Ministry. They all say that their living standard is not satisfactory, in addition to complaining about the price hikes. There were legal issues that the government could have dealt with early in order to deter the stagnation of these issues, resulting in surprise trouble.
If these issues were resolved step by step, we would have been able to deal with them and terminate the crises. Aden is the economic capital, embracing many government offices. It has roughly 60,000 employees. The management of this governorate requires sanity and wisdom in order make people believe that the authority is theirs. Consequently, the more the locals are satisfied, the more effective the decisions are. In the end, we should have a concerted point: protecting the city against misuse.
How will you solve the problem of Abyan's displaced—currently residing in Aden—considering this problem reflects negatively on education?
We have been discussing this with Abyan's governor and the government's executive authority. The basic services—water and electricity—have been restored to Abyan. The services have started improving nowadays. The problem still exists because people cannot return; their homes are destroyed. We try to accommodate the IDPs (Internally Displaces Persons) in a few schools so that the schools are rehabilitated in preparation for the upcoming school year normally and better than last year, which ended on the basis of a formerly decided plan.
Since you took office, Aden has been suffering from many environmental problems, in addition to the aggravation of the water and electricity crises. Do you think certain persons attempt to spark problems?
We have been striving to treat the situations which we have been suffering from with the least intervention of politics. Indeed, there are exaggerations in terms of the street cleaners' demands, though their salaries are YR 35,000 compared to the capital city street workers, whose salaries are YR 25,000. Moreover, we have provided health and social insurance estimated at YR 350 million; the street workers in other governorates don’t enjoy this privilege.
It is true that these workers have rights, but they shoulder a responsibility. If they have not performed their duty, I will apply law and order in addition to other treatments. I will not allow the deterioration of services while I have the authority and potential.
Although the electric generators are operating, power cuts are continuous. Why?
The electricity issue in Aden is not limited to Waheed Rasheed. It is not a one-night or one-day issue. It has been accumulated for 25 years. The electricity problem in Aden dates back to the time prior to Reunification Day. Now, talks about troubles have doubled due to the open political atmosphere. We pledged to residents to resolve the power generation issue through providing 60 megawatts every month. However, this month has seemed long because of the financial procedures. We have opened a $32 million account for this project.
What are the major obstacles you encounter as governor?
I don’t want to talk over the obstacles; we seek to find a stable atmosphere to work. The other thing is that I have been granted full power by the president, yet this power should be based on lawful dimensions so that it yields tangible results for residents. The problem is not pertinent to the resources. It is possible to provide dozens of billions in a very brief period. However, the administrative preparedness that can take advantage of these sums is the problem.
Some people wonder about the absent role of local councils in the governorate.
Local councils should not bear more than they can. Local councils have been out of date. These councils' restoration is needed; restoration is essential as well for the state so that the entire society makes a move.
What about the crisis of changing Aden's district managers, resulting in strikes by some district councils?
There is no crisis. Some managers were replaced. This is normal because change is the stamp of life. These managers have long been in office. Change was executed following negotiations with those managers, and some were given warnings to work on improving services in their districts, yet there was no progress.
With this regard, there are accusations directed at you, especially from the General People's Congress (GPC), saying you strive to enable the Islah party to take control of Aden by means of appointing general managers affiliated with the party. Is this true?
I want the public opinion and journalists to prove that on the ground. If they find a political, partisan ratio of figures have been appointed at the expense of others, they can talk about that in due time.
What has been roused is baseless. The majority of managers in Da'ar Sa'ad, Sheik Othman and Al-Buraika were appointed by the GPC. I appointed a manager for Al-Mualla who is connected with GPC. If an Islahi manager is appointed, is this forbidden? Is he considered one of the state staff?
You set up a fact-finding committee with regard to financial breaches committed by local council leadership during the 2011 investment project in the governorate. Was this decree a warning letter after the objection of local council leadership to the last appointments?
That was not a warning. And the purpose of this step was just a punishment. It is to avoid repeating the same mistakes once again. This step was taken by the government in case violations take place. This is public money; transparent accountability should be implemented. In the Gulf Cup 20, held in Aden, there were approximately 19 police vehicles. Now there are five. Fourteen vehicles have been unavailable; where are they? It is not reasonable to remain silent.
We want to calm the situation down. There other issues that should be dealt with clearly in order to know what is what.
Regarding the security situation, do you have a plan at the moment to end insecurity in Aden?
The security problem is commonplace nationwide, not just in Aden. We opened the main street of Al-Mualla that was blocked for one year by protestors. There were other districts that were blocked. Now they are open. You should compare the security situation in March, April and nowadays.
It is true that some still hold their weapons and bullets are still heard. However, the security situation file is positively in progress. Security has not fully restored thus far, but I assure you that Aden will be a safe city in the months to come, just as it was in the past.
You are saying the situation in the city is positive. One month ago, Al-Qaeda infiltrated the Political Security compound more than once.
I admit there are security gaps and breaches. To restrict these problems, it is indispensable that we exert our utmost. The security administration needs to elevate its performance and make a plan to accommodate the whole security staff in Aden in the months to come.
But many observers say Al-Qaeda would not be successful without the collusion of some sides. For instance, surveillance cameras were removed from the Radio and Television complex one day before the attack.
Yes, there are downsides in the security apparatus. I cannot deny that. The obvious example of weakness is that police stations in Aden have not recovered yet.
The breaches in these apparatuses are not purposeful but resulted from the general situation experienced by the entire nation, leading to the weakness of the administrative and security apparatus.
What about the investigations?
The investigations are on progress. We made a plan during the last week, and a group of the Al-Qaeda affiliates were captured. They are being cross-examined now.
How do Al-Qaeda affiliates come from Lahj and Abyan into Aden with weapons, passing by several checkpoints in such a sensitive security situation?
Weapons were distributed before. They are in Aden and are being used; we are trying to solve this problem.
As for Al-Qaeda, the security apparatuses have to pursue and arrest them to eliminate their presence and arrest whoever owns weapons inside the city.
We also suffer because some media work for some people to make them prominent. They increase the presence of some terrorist bodies in the media.
Sadeq Haid, Aden’s security chief, announced that police stations lack soldiers and equipment. What did you do regarding that?
We informed the Ministry of Interior at the end of March, and it provided us with equipment, but it didn’t meet our needs.
People think Aden Security Department doesn’t do its duties. How do you evaluate Aden’s security chief?
He is a qualified person, but he was appointed in a very complicated and difficult situation.
South Yemen’s flags are present everywhere in the streets. Is the reconciliation government serious about instilling unity in the city?
We are working according to the Gulf Initiative, which provided freedom for each resident in the country. I think people can say what they want on the condition that they don’t resort to violence.
As for separation signs in the city, we informed the Southern Movement’s leaders from the outset to respect other people.
I really wonder whether those people belong to Aden or not. Unfortunately, those people don’t represent Aden and the people of Aden. If they resort to violence, the state will do its duty.
Aden has become a place for the Southern Movement’s activities, which sends supporters from different southern governorates. There are also accusations of Iran and Al-Qaeda’s presence. How are you going to deal with these challenges?
What is required to face these challenges is to adhere to the Gulf Initiative, which, in my opinion, came to solve the problem of Aden as a main part of the political impasse in Yemen.
By solving this problem, many problems will be solved. Therefore, I call upon the government to dedicate more effort to solve Aden’s problems. All organizations in the governorate are allowed to participate and present their views at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC).
People who direct erupting violence came from outside Aden because they failed to create disorder in Aden while in their areas. They thought they will be known by the world by coming to Aden. However, they only sent negative messages to the world and couldn’t convey a true issue.
Can you mention those interested in creating chaos and confusion in Aden?
There are several parties, and there is no need to mention certain names. Those who couldn’t take advantage of the unity, which occurred 22 years ago, are the same people who are currently creating chaos. They failed on May 22, 1990, and they will fail now. The problem will be solved, and Yemen will continue to be unified as it is.
Do the activities of the Southern Movement increase chaos in Aden?
The disadvantages of the Southern Movement are more than its achievements. They can’t defend and argue about their views. We wanted them to be a part of the national issue.
The Southern Movement, at the beginning, addressed issues concerning public rights of people, but then they used these rights for their advantage, and this was a huge mistake by the movement.
The Southern Movement still has an opportunity to join the National Dialogue and present the issues of people rather than presenting people’s agendas as if they were agendas of a certain political group.
It is said that Ali Salem Al-Beidh will soon return south to participate in the NDC because of regional pressure on him. What do you think is the importance of Al-Beidh’s return?
Each Yemeni has the right to come back to his country. I don’t understand why it is specified that he is returning to the south only. He is free to come back anywhere, but he has to be committed to law.
He is calling for separation of the south from the north. Do you think he will quit demanding this or will his presence raise more problems?
This isn’t a problem because those who call for separation are found in Al-Dale’a, Yafe’, Hadramout and Aden. He mustn’t bring an extremist ideology, violence and armed escalation to the south. If he wants to come back and participate in the NDC, he has to present clear views. Al-Beidh is a political leader, and no one will accept that he creates chaos.
Can you explain how Ahmed Abdullah Al-Hassani, a former ambassador, was arrested in Aden Airport?
I personally followed this incident, and it was like a movie. He was greeting people after being released without giving any details about the incident. I immediately gave orders to investigate the matter, but later I felt it was arranged as media hype.
It is said that the Houthis are participating with the Southern Movement in Aden. Is it true?
Yes. It is true that they have activities, but the media inflates these issues, making Aden as Sa’ada. It is true that we face problems from different sides in an exceptional situation. We call upon all parties, particularly those who joined the Gulf Initiative, to do their duties toward their country.
How was the Aden Port agreement with Dubai Ports International Company (DIPC) terminated?
The Dubai Ports International Company has not been committed to the years-old agreement. The economic income of Yemen has become scant.
The Yemeni government disapproved of many mistakes committed by the company. Hence, a committee was formed by the cabinet to discuss the issue with DIPC, but the latter didn’t accept that. Therefore, the Transportation Ministry was connected, since it is responsible for signing the agreement with the company, and the agreement was terminated.
I hope this action will have a positive benefit, and no other companies will be given an opportunity to monopolize the port in the future.
How will Aden and Yemen benefit by terminating this agreement?
This is related to the Ministry of Transportation currently. Promotion for the port must be made, and agreements must be signed with other navigation companies because Aden Port is a main passage.
I hope the Ministry of Transportation will adopt a policy to promote the port and sign agreements with several companies to end monopolization and allow companies to compete with each other and hence create more investment opportunities and work opportunities for people in the city.
But the minister of transportation survived an assassination attempt an hour after terminating the agreement. Do you think those businessmen and influential people who lost their benefits will let it pass peacefully?
It is normal that terminating the agreement will be faced with resistance, and we are used to it. I hope the government will adopt a clear policy to end monopolization.