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Hadi, UN envoy seek to put Yemen talks on track

GCC chief due in Sana’a to review final arrangements

Gulf News

Sana’a: President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the UN envoy to Yemen have met to discuss a proposed national dialogue which has failed to take place as scheduled, state news agency Saba reported.

The news agency quoted UN envoy Jamal Benomar as saying he met participants who understand “that dialogue alone is the way to preserve rights and Yemen’s unity, independence and security” in meetings on the nationwide talks due to start in mid-November.

Hadi and Benomar “discussed latest political developments in Yemen and the nature of negotiations taking place... with the southern opposition in [the main southern city of] Aden and Cairo,” Saba reported.

The national dialogue conference has not yet begun and no announcements have been made on why or on a new date.

Hadi had repeatedly urged all parties in Yemen to join the dialogue. However, the Southern Movement, an influential alliance of groups seeking autonomy or even independence for the south, said on October 3 it would boycott the talks.

The dialogue was stipulated in the Gulf-brokered and UN-backed deal under which former president Ali Abdullah Saleh officially stepped down in February, following a year-long uprising against his rule.

The Defence Ministry news website reported that Gulf Cooperation Council chief Abdul Latif Al Zayani, who played a key role alongside Benomar in securing the deal, will arrive in Sana’a on Sunday to take note of “the final arrangements that have been made to hold the national dialogue conference”.

The talks are seen as a critical phase in Yemen’s transition process where all parties, including the opposition, youth and northern rebels, are expected to come together and agree on a new constitution and on presidential and parliamentary elections.

Residents in the south complain of discrimination by the government, citing an inequitable distribution of resources.

After the 1990 union between North and South Yemen, the south broke away in 1994. The move sparked a short-lived civil war that ended with the region being overrun by northern troops.