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Naif Al-Qanis to Yemen Times: The negatives aspects of the government outweigh the positives because it has trapped itself in a program it c

Published on 14 January 2013 in Interview
Mohammed Al-Samei (author)

Mohammed Al-Samei


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Naif Al-Qanis

Naif Al-Qanis

Naif Al-Qanis, a leader of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party, said Yemen will remain a ticking time bomb if the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) moves ahead without the necessary preparations put in place, like the implementation of the 20 Points.

He said, in an interview with the Yemen Times, that the Ba’ath Party will partake in the (NDC) if the 20 Points presented by the Preparatory Committee to President Hadi are honored.


 Let's start with the National Dialogue because it’s the most important issue right now. Is the Ba’ath Party still refusing to participate in the NDC?

First, the Ba’ath Party completely believes that the National Dialogue is the only solution to our problems. However, how do we prepare for this dialogue? What are the outcomes we should look for in order to solve national problems?

Many problems started long ago - what happened in the Southern governorates, what happened to people in the middle governorates, the wars in Sa’ada and the maltreatment on the people of Tehama - and we should deal with these issues.

There are also other issues including economic problems and the wording of the constitution.

 In the Ba’ath Party, we are eager to enter into an equal dialogue in spite of the representation percentages allocated to parties.


Some say the Ba’ath and other parties have demanded certain preparations for the NDC because they have small representation percentages in the conference.

It’s not important if we have ten or 20 seats in the NDC, but what we do not accept is if some parties have power over others. Each party deserves nine representatives, distributed among the nine committees of the NDC. To demand more than this is useless. There are nine committees at the NDC so why doesn't the Ba’ath Party get to participate in all committees?

Personally, I think that nine seats would be enough for the six parties of the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) if they had a comprehensive, national vision.


It is said that the three biggest parties in the JMP provided three seats for the three other parties in the coalition, including the Ba’ath?

It’s a shame to say big or small parties at this point because a big party is something that presents a complete national vision.

The parties that were established recently should be given the opportunity to present their ambitions and the ambitions of the youth affiliated with them.

Giving three seats to each party is more derogatory than a solution because full participation in the dialogue requires each party requires to have nine participants.

I don’t know why the General People Congress (GPC) insists on having 112 representatives and the Islah Party demands 50 representatives or the Socialist Party, the Nasserites, the Houthis or the Southern Movement demand specific representation percentages.  

We have to look for a vision that will enable us to reach an outcome that benefits the whole country.

Evidence shows that the Technical Committee for the NDC was fundamentally flawed.


Some criticize the process used to divide the representation percentages. What is your opinion?

What is built on fallacy will end in error. The Technical Committee was based on misguidance.


Why?

It didn’t include everyone and it also falls short in decision making. President Hadi’s decree stipulated this committee was to be technically specialized, but now it also does the job of [the Preparatory Committee].  

Due to the financial and administrative corruption in this committee, Majed Al-Madhaji and Radhia Al-Mutawakel, two members of the committee, resigned. They informed President Abdu Rabu Mansur Hadi, but he did nothing to tackle the problem, causing them to  resigned after a month.

The Technical Committee violated the Gulf Initiative completely. It stipulated that President Hadi was to be the one to solve disputes between political parties,not Benomar.


As of now, we don’t know whether the Ba’ath Party will participate in the NDC or not.

Unless we prepare for the NDC [properly], it is a bomb that could go off at any time. The Preparatory Committee presented the 20 Points to President Hadi. These points included many political demands and were approved by political forces and accredited by President Hadi himself. Therefore, they must be implemented prior to the dialogue.

We cannot convince the Southern Movement to partake in the dialogue. Therefore, the points must be implemented and then we will participate whether we have four, five or even nine seats. If the JMP has a clear vision, we will participate even with one seat.

However, if all parties participate with their own visions, we have the right to participate in the nine committees of the NDC in order to represent our own agenda. But, we cannot do that if we only have four seats.

We started working on our own agenda several years ago. We wish the JMP would have paid more attention to that.


Will the NDC succeed if it’s held in March?

Do you mean in this way?

If the NDC is held in these circumstances, Yemen will divide itself, and we will not be able to reach an end. The security situation is already bad. Several security and military leaders have been assassinated because they have important files and documents. We should not blame Al-Qaeda for everything because the forces that once ruled over the country are trying to get rid of each other.

The dialogue should be completely Yemeni and shouldn't become a space for agendas from abroad.


Why do you think that in spite of the continuous calls for factions of the Southern Movement to take part in the NDC, some are still refusing to participate?

They should actually discuss their complaints within the NDC, but they aren’t sure that anything will be solved because they have been given false promises before. President Hadi should implement what he promised before in terms of removing military camps and weapons from the capital.

The Al-Hayat (life) March arrived in Sana’a several weeks ago in a peaceful and professional manner. But, they were attacked by security forces in Al-Sabeen Square. These attacks took place after the 2011 revolution. The state continues to negotiate and meet the demands of those who kill others and block roads.


How do you evaluate last year’s political situation?

The events of last year are connected to each other. The government was established. Then the presidential elections and the military restructure took place, both of which were vital steps.

However, some other important decrees regarding the restructure weren’t implemented on the ground. I also want to say that unexpected things happened to the political compromise because the Gulf Initiative wasn’t completely implemented.

The government made a big mistake by presenting a proposal as if we are living in a normal situation. I don’t know why. This couldn't even be implemented in the best situation.


The performance of the government has been criticized, how do you evaluate its performance last year?

The negatives aspects of the government outweigh the positives because it has trapped itself in a program it cannot implement

The budget this year is the largest in Yemen's history. It has many deficits because huge sums were used for the military instead of development.

Reports indicate that there are many fake jobs inside the military and security institutions. Why doesn't the government stop paying the salaries of those fake employees and save some much needed money?


The JMP shares half of the government, so why was the performance of ministries lacking?

Let me give you an example. The Information Minister belongs to the JMP, but the deputy, who attends meetings and holds press conferences, is affiliated with the GPC. It is important tor the political process that we finish filling these positions before tangible action can occur.

For instance, the Ba’ath party has a ministry, but no deputy or general managers have been appointed from it. Even public jobs must be based on certain standards instead of [basing it on political affiliations].


Can we say that the situation in Yemen is going from bad to worse?

Yes. However, we can rectify this situation. Everyone must assume responsibility. Ministers and their deputies in the government must work together and not against each other.


How do you evaluate President Hadi's performance last year?

He had a good beginning in spite of the obstacles he faced. But, it’s clear that he has taken power and sometimes made some violates the political compromises.

The Gulf Initiative stipulated that the president and the prime minister are responsible for solving problems or disputes. For example, they are responsible for providing solutions to problems that arise between the members of Parliament.

Let’s take the draft of the Transitional Justice Law. First it was presented by a Ministerial Committee to the Cabinet and referred to the president and the government. However, we were surprised by another draft presented by the GPC. In this case, President Hadi is supposed to solve a disagreement that would negatively affect the transitional process.


What are the steps the JMP can take regarding the current draft of the Transitional Justice Law?

We discussed this in the JMP and sent a message to President Hadi to consider some articles of the draft that was discussed between the JMP, the GPC and the government to end the disagreements that arose.

The U.N. approved this draft and only the president and the prime minister have the right to implement it. I think that the general managers affiliated with the JMP in the Technical Committee will not attend the meetings in protest of the law's wording.

We in the JMP will escalate this issue because ignoring it will not do justice to the victims. Persistence in this topic will destroy the political process.

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