Thursday, 10 March 2011

New constitution and referendum this year, President Saleh says

It's ’ too late, analyst says
By Nasser Arrabyee/10/03/2011

The Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered Thursday a new initiative in an attempt to defuse the crisis in his country because of the ongoing protests that demand his ouster.

Speaking to more than 40,000 people who came from all over the country to participate in what’s called “national dialogue” conference, President Saleh said a referendum on a new constitution should be held during 2011.

The three branches of power should be separated according to the new constitution. A parliament system will be used instead of the current mixed one.

A committee from House of Representatives, and Shura Council and from all parties and civil society organizations will be formed to prepare for the new constitution.
A unity government is to be formed according Saleh’s new initiative.

A new law for elections will be formulated with the proportional system as the system of elections in the country.

Saleh said in his speech that the government would meet all the demands of those demonstrating in the street.

However, some observers say the Saleh’s initiative is too late.

“I do not think the initiative will work now, it would have worked if president Saleh announced it immediately after what happened in Tunisia,” Said Abdul Salam Mohammed, chairman of the Abaad Center for Studies and Researches, a recently established local think tank.

“The street now is many steps ahead of President Saleh,” he added.

More than 40,000 tribal leaders, religious leaders , young people, civil society representatives, and members of parliament from the country’s 22 provinces and 330 districts attended the country’s biggest hall, 22 of May, Hall, to listen to the embattled Saleh and support him.

Last Friday, March 4th, 2011, President Saleh called for this meeting as a general conference for national dialogue after he rejected a five-point plan by the opposition which required him to peacefully and smoothly transfer the power by the end of this year at most.

The main opposition parties did not participate in the big meeting although it was under the title of “national dialogue”.

A leading member of the opposition said before the Thursday conference, the opposition will not pay attention to the conference.

“The conference will be just a declaration of the death of the regime and we will not pay any attention to it,” said Mohammed Al Sabri, one of the leading members of the opposition.
Anti- Saleh demonstrations are increasing day by day with the angry demonstrators refusing any initiative and demanding only the ouster of Saleh.

Two things might happen in Yemen now : A war or peaceful revolution if the conflicting parties stay as they are now.

The President Ali Abdullah Saleh earlier said he would not leave the power only when his current term ends in 2013 and he sticks to an 8-point plan by the religious leaders who suggested a national unity government to prepare for elections.

The opposition coalition which includes the Islamists , Socialists, and Nasserites, gave President Saleh only nine months at most to supervise presidential elections in which he is not participating. The opposition-backed increasing protesters in the streets want Saleh to leave now without delay.

Streets are not only for whose frustrated young people and disgruntled tribesmen, inspired by what’s happening now in the Arab world, who believe that ouster of Saleh will solve their problems, but also for supporters of Saleh

Tents of sit-ins are increasing day by day for both pro and anti-Saleh demonstrators. Tensions and concerns and fears of possible confrontation are always on rise.
It’s only a miracle if the conflicting parties return to normal and restart dialogue and stop the revolution or the war.

“Over history, Yemen has passed through even more difficult situations than now, and all of a sudden, the bother-enemies, become brothers and friends and no problem at all,” said Hassan Al Hashidi, a researcher and activist who is participating in the anti-Saleh protests.
Al Hashidi, could not say how that might happen, but he said, “ a miracle who knows?.”

After President Saleh rejected a five-point plan by the opposition which requires him to leave power by the end of this year, the Yemeni religious leaders said the opposition parties would be calling for a war if they do not agree on their 8-point plan which suggests formation of a national unity government.

In a statement read by the religious leader Mukbel Al Kadhi, after in a meeting held in Al Saleh grand mosque on Friday March 4th, 2011, the religious leaders said, the opposition would be calling for “Fitnah”, meaning a war, if they do not agree on this plan.

The 8-point plan was offered to President Saleh last Monday February 28, 2011, by Abdul Majid Al Zandani, the most influential cleric in the largest Islamist opposition party, Islah, in presence of all Yemeni clerics.

The religious leaders said, in their statement, they did not receive any answer on their plan from the opposition parties though they waited for two days.

According to the statement, Abdul Majid Al Zandani was assigned by the religious leaders to offer the plan to the opposition collation. The religious leaders said they were supposed to have an answer within two days at most.

“After the two days have passed, we met on Wednesday and unanimously approved the 8-point plan, and we agreed that whoever violates it, then he is calling for ‘Fitnah’ (a religious word meaning an all-out war) ,” said the statement.

On their part, the opposition parties renewed their support for the demonstrators in the street who demand the ouster of President Saleh and condemned any violence against them.

On the same day, on Friday , the opposition parties criticized in a statement the religious leaders who issued such Fatwas, religious decrees saying it was only to please the regime. “They have to repent to Allah and ask him for forgiveness, if He would forgive them,” said the statement in an obvious reference to the religious leaders who said the opposition is calling for ‘Fitnah’ if they do not agree on the
8-point plan.

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