Friday, 31 December 2010

US Calls For Consensus On Constitutional Reforms In Yemen

Source: RTTNews

The United States has called on the government and the opposition in Yemen to reach a consensus by addressing issues related to Constitutional reforms and other election reforms through the National Dialogue.

A statement issued by Acting State Department Spokesman Mark C. Toner "urgently" called on all parties to delay parliamentary action and to return to the negotiating table to reach an agreement that will be welcomed by the Yemeni people as well as Yemen's friends.

The US government welcomed reports that Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh has decided to appoint a new team from the ruling party - General People's Conference - to re-engage with the opposition in a new effort to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion.

The State Department issued the statement in the wake of reports regarding the apparent decision by the ruling party to vote on a package of Constitutional reforms at a parliamentary session on Saturday.

The Parliamentary majority of Yemen’s ruling party would vote next Saturday for new constitutional amendments for better political system, said sources in the party’s block on Wednesday.

The presidential term will be reduced to five years instead of current seven years according to the new amendments.

Women will be given 44 additional seats in the House of Representatives raising the number to 345 instead of the current 301 seats.

Decentralization by adopting local governance with wide powers will also be stipulated in the new amendments.

The decision to vote for the new constitutional amendments came after President Ali Abdullah Saleh had held a meeting with the State officials and leaders of his party in the Presidential Office in the capital Sana’a late on Wednesday.

Such constitutional amendments along with holding the parliamentary elections on time (next April) were the main topics of the exceptional meeting of President Saleh.

These developments came as the country’s main opposition parties escalated their threats to boycott the next April elections seeking political reforms first.

The opposition say the ruling party violated an agreement reached between them and the ruling party on February 2009 for making such political reforms.

The parties at the time agreed to postpone the parliamentary elections for two years from April 2009 to April 2011 after they amended a constitutional article to allow them to take the step of postponement.

The parties failed to reach any agreement on the political and elections reforms during the period from February 2009 until today.

Earlier this month, the ruling party declared it would go to April’s elections even without the main opposition parties, the coalition which includes the Islamists, Socialists, and Nasserite, locally known as the Joint Meeting Parties.The majority of the ruling party in the House voted for amendments of the electoral law.

It also voted for formation of a supreme committee of elections, made up of nine judges, rather than representatives of the parties, a step taken for the first time since Yemen started democracy in 1990.It seems it’s not too late for the parties to reach a compromise which make them all participate in the next elections.

According to sources in the Presidential meeting of today Wednesday, the President Saleh asked some of his officials to contact with the opposition leaders for convincing them to participate in the elections.

The spokesman of the opposition coalition Mohammed Al Kubati said, however, the only thing that would make the opposition accept any talk or any dialogue with the ruling party is to cancel all steps taken without participation of the opposition like the vote for the amendments of the electoral law and formation of the elections committee.

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