Al-Ahram Weekly Online   22 - 28 December 2011
Issue No. 1077
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Moving forward despite difficulties

The Yemeni unity government is expected to submit its programme to parliament next week, writes Nasser Arrabyee

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A banner reads: "We are all Bouazizi." carried by Yemeni demonstrators to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian young man who set himself on fire in an act of protest which inspired the Arab Spring, in Sanaa

The opposition members of the parliament (about 60 out of 301) returned to sessions on Tuesday after about 11 months of boycotting.

The law of immunity from prosecution for senior officials from both sides the ruling party and from the opposition will be issued by parliament after voting on the new government programme over the few coming weeks according to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal, its scheduled implementation plan and UN resolution 2014 on the solution of the Yemeni crisis.

Ali Abdullah Saleh will remain as an honorary president until a new president is elected on 21 February, and will likely go for more medical treatments in the United States according to Western diplomatic sources. After treatment, Saleh will return to Yemen to act as a normal politician in his party.

Although the general political and security situation is getting better and better day by day since the internationally-supported deal of power transfer was signed 23 November, a lot of protesters remain in the streets demanding the trial of those who were behind killing hundreds of Yemenis during the one-year political crisis.

The young protesters are still sceptical that the opposition-chaired government would be able to achieve their demands to have a democratic and civil state, despite the fact that the majority of them belong to the opposition parties that agreed on the solution.

The young protesters are not represented in the new opposition-chaired government which was evenly divided between the ruling party and the six main opposition parties, locally known as the Joint Meeting Parties.

Most politicians now want the protesters to go home to help the government build the economy and provide the basic services for the people who suffered for almost one year.

Some other politicians want the young protesters to stay in their tents in the streets as a guarantee that all their demands will be met. "The young protester should now form committees to monitor the performance of the unity government for establishing the democratic and modern state," said Adel Al-Sharjabi, political analyst and university professor. "The young people should not now care about being represented in the government but they should care very much for the representation of their ideas and visions," said Al-Sharjabi.

Implementation of the scheduled step-by-step plan for the power transfer has been continuing without stop or delay since the conflicting parties agreed to end the crisis last 23 November despite the difficulties.

In the Yemeni capital for instance, troops and armed tribesmen from both sides were withdrawn from many streets. Sand bags and soil barriers were removed from these streets and relatively normal life is back now.

The sand bags and soil barriers in some of the most dangerous points like Aser traffic circle in the 60 ring road were removed. And the process is continuing to clean the capital from all military and weapons.

However, the military committee in charge of restoring stability faced more difficulties in removing the huge pile of sand bags and barriers in the area of Al-Hasaba, where the most influential opposition tribal leader Hamid Al-Ahmar and his ten brothers have been in armed conflict with the government troops since last May.

But 10 international and Arab ambassadors seem to be determined to work day and night to help the vice president, who is authorised by Saleh to act as president, and the new government to implement the step by step plan until a new president is elected.

These 10 ambassadors are the five ambassadors of the permanent countries in UN Security Council, four ambassadors of the six gulf nations and the ambassador of the European Union.

"We follow up hour by hour what's happening in the ground in terms of implementation of what Yemenis agreed to do to end their crisis," one of the 10 ambassadors told Al-Ahram Weekly. "If any failure happens, we will know easily who is responsible for that failure and we will say to the world who is the responsible," the ambassador added.

Earlier last week, Vice President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi issued a one-week-long road map to withdraw all government forces and opposition armed militants from the streets of the capital Sanaa and the other cities starting at 8am on Saturday.

In a meeting with the military committee for achieving security and stability, which was formed from the opposition and government, Hadi said: "The government forces must return to their permanent camps and opposition armed people must return to their villages and houses. The military and security situation in Sanaa and other cities witnessing tensions, must be as normal as it was before January 2011."

The meeting was attended by UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Bin Omar, who urged all parties to stop violating human rights and stop violence. On 21 December, Bin Omar is scheduled to brief the UN Security Council on the progress in solving the Yemeni crisis and implementation of Resolution 2014.

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