Sana’s Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi pledged on Monday to see through the UN-backed transition from veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule at a ceremony attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.
Hadi vowed that parliamentary elections would go ahead in February 2014 as planned under the transition agreement signed by Saleh a year ago that paved the way for his succession.
Hadi called on political factions in Yemen to overcome their differences and demonstrate the “cohesion and understanding” necessary for the national dialogue envisaged by the transition deal that ended 11 months of deadly violence.
The dialogue had been due to start in the middle of this month but it has yet to get under way and no new date has been set nor reason given for the delay.
Hadi told reporters after Monday’s anniversary ceremony that a preparatory committee for the national dialogue, which will have the job of drawing up a new constitution and electoral law, had completed 95 per cent of its work.
“The remaining five per cent will be completed in the coming few weeks,” he said.
Hadi has repeatedly urged all factions to join the critical talks, including Zaidi Shiite rebels, who have mounted repeated uprisings in the far north since 2004, and activists of the Southern Movement, who have campaigned for autonomy or outright secession for the formerly independent south.
Early last month, the Southern Movement announced it would boycott the national dialogue in protest at its grievances not being heard.
But Hadi, who is himself a southerner, gave the movement little encouragement for a change of heart.
“Everything will take place within the framework of Yemen’s security and its unity,” he said.
The UN chief, whose special envoy Jamal Benomar has made repeated visits to Yemen to support the transition agreement, said the world body stood ready to provide “technical and logistical” assistance for the national dialogue.
Ban urged Yemeni leaders to remove all obstacles to the participation of the Zaidi Shiite rebels.
The UN chief held talks not only with Hadi but also with members of the military committee that is charged with restructuring the armed forces, which were split down the middle by last year’s bloody uprising against Saleh, the state Saba news agency said.
Ban was also to hold talks with ambassadors from Yemen’s Gulf Arab neighbours, which played a big part in brokering last year’s agreement and are key donors to the impoverished country, a diplomat said.
The head of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdul Latif Al Zayani, too held talks with Hadi on preparations for the national dialogue, Saba said.
He said the bloc had opened an office in Sanaa to monitor projects funded with its aid.