Political Analysis

NDC Secretary General addresses key issues in lively Q & A session

National Yemen

Dr. Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak

BY NDC Staff

National Dialogue Conference (NDC) Secretary General Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak has reiterated that the main outcome of the conference will be a new constitution. The constitution, he said, will lay the foundation for a new era which, in turn, will specify how future Yemeni generations will choose to coexist and construct their nation.

This statement and many others were delivered in a live Facebook question-and-answer session on Friday night in which bin Mubarak answered NDC-related questions from the public.

“There will be a vote on the new constitution and there will also be a set of urgent programs to address the results of discussions on the Southern Issue, the impact of the Sa’ada wars, and issues which impact marginalized groups,” he said.

bin Mubarak, said the NDC isn’t focusing its efforts on policies or detailed programs, but rather on pivotal issues related to the constitution.

Among his remarks, bin Mubarak said he is very optimistic and also that Yemen is moving closer towards achieving the dream of building a modern, civil state.

“I hope we maintain our dream and do our best to have it come true through adherence to the dialogue outcomes – and through forming a safety cushion around the dialogue conference,” he said.

“You, the Yemeni people can ensure the implementation of and commitment to the dialogue outcomes. You are the dialogue’s safety cushion,” said bin Mubarak.

“Furthermore, there are international guarantees to ensure a commitment to NDC outcomes; the discussions on Yemen which are held every 60 days by the UN Security Council amount to key evidence on how the international community cares about this dialogue,” he said in response to a question about what would follow the conference itself.

He affirmed that there are no closed-door discussions at the NDC. He added, however, that the main reason for not broadcasting live discussions at the moment is to dissuade dialogue members from delivering emotional speeches aimed at the media, and to help the dialogue members discuss matters in a methodical manner.

“Nonetheless, the dialogue members have the right to decide when their discussions should be aired live,” he said.

The Secretary General explained that the NDC is run in accordance to four principles: a comprehensive discussion of issues; genuine participation on the part of all groups; transparency; and real, meaningful outcomes.

“The conference represents the first time in which a dialogue conference is being held by all, but is not restricted to the traditional political elites,” he added. “The south is strongly represented, amounting to 50 percent of all NDC members; 30 percent of the participants are women; youth representation is at 20 percent; and civil society organizations have representatives at the conference as well,” said bin Mubarak.

“In addition, there are representatives for Yemeni expatriates, the marginalized, minorities, etc. It is a societal – not a regime and opposition – conference. It is the dialogue conference for all of us.”

Concerning the Southern Issue, he said it remains the key to addressing Yemen’s national problems in general.

“I think it is clear that all southern projects, including the bid for separation, have been put on the table at the NDC; there is a keen understanding on the part of all groups of the need to develop objective visions to address this issue fairly,” he said.

The Facebook question-and-answer session provoked widespread public involvement. More than 500 individuals directly participated through asking questions and posting comments.

Among his replies, Bin Mubarak confirmed the NDC is a specifically Yemeni matter and that all international efforts are restricted to the provision of technical support to aid the dialogue process.

“The Working Groups make suitable decisions on the NDC and even international visits take place after approval has been gained from the working groups,” he said.

He elaborated on how the NDC functions, saying that according to the conference bylaws, if an entire component of the NDC with 5 percent representation or more withdraws, the remaining components or parties shall halt discussions until agreement has been reached with them.

The NDC Secretary General added, “It is very important to clarify how the mechanism to approve what is decided upon in the working groups operates. This takes place through the formation of proposals which are submitted to the NDC at the general assembly. The proposals are discussed for the purpose of developing visions, and then are submitted for approval in their final forms at the closing general assembly.”

“I can say that the NDC has passed through the first stage, which was concerned with providing a firm foundation to enable the NDC members to discuss difficult topics, with transparency, acceptance of others’ opinions, and with an understanding of the suffering of all who bring issues to the table,” said bin Mubarak. “The atmosphere is positive, in spite of all challenges which have been faced.”

He said the dialogue was not designed to facilitate the discussion of daily issues, but rather policies in general.

“The next government to be elected after the vote on the new constitution will be in charge of discussing daily issues,” he said.

“The issue of forming a new government must not be decided on by the NDC.  If the NDC becomes busy with daily issues and developments, there will not be a chance to build a new state,” said bin Mubarak.

“The most important thing at the moment is to address the main reasons behind the absence of good governance; weak partnerships in decision-making; poor wealth management; and the absence of equal citizenship,” he said.

Speaking about the matter of state-building, bin Mubarak affirmed that the preference voiced by most political representatives at the NDC was for a federalist government structure.

Concerning public expectations, the NDC Secretary General said, “The sky will not rain happiness immediately following the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference.”

“We must work hard to build our state and to implement NDC decisions. We must abandon negativity. The main challenges concern our determination, efforts, and loyalty.”

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