OP-ED

Leaders Need to Get Serious About the ND

85 days have passed since the National Dialogue began last March and the results seem ambiguous towards the future of the National Dialogue. Will it end on time or it will it be amended?
What has happened after the Second Session is a significant point of contestation for some representatives either from the GPC, Houthis, Islahis, or some of the youth who support the process here and there. What has been clear is that the majority of the members misunderstand the concept of being members of the National Dialogue and try to bargain for better results when it comes to the end of the Dialogue. All parties are putting serious pressure on the National Dialogue secretaries, the president, and donors in order to raise the level of their demands. For example, what happened in front of the National Security building, whether it was a peaceful protest or not, to get out the prisoners from the National Security jail as well as the reactions of the security forces was a gesture to postpone and delaying the process of the National Dialogue?
On the second day of the second session, the head of the General Session meeting Mohammad Gahtan was absolutely wrong when he stopped the Houthis from presenting their statements in public. I have listened to many of the members who never support the Houthis but sympathize with the Houthi’s actions and say it would have been better if they were allowed to speak out about their demands. We have allowed everybody from the beginning to say what they want and now, all of a sudden, we feel like it is time to stop the freedom of expression by all parties.
The point here is not which entities want to express themselves, nor who should boycott the sessions. The point is that the members of the National Dialogue are not the right people to decide the future of Yemen on behalf of the people. They are part of the transition that should prevent the country from sinking into a state of deeper instability. Their role should be ending within a couple of months and from my own perspective, 70% of them are not the right people to decide for the new laws, though they can be the gatekeepers to a new Yemen.
My advice to the head of the sessions is to continue granting full freedom as they have from the beginning and to continue with the final months of the Dialogue peacefully rather than delaying and postponing the sessions. I believe there is international pressure on the parties but if one or two parties decide to destroy what has been already built, then they unfortunately have that capability. Almost 60% of the National Dialogue has been peacefully achieved and this is so far a good result. The remaining 40% should continue without delay, and without sacrificing the basic right to the freedom of expression.