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Benomar interview

National Yemen

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar

Translated By Fatama al-Hattami

Benomar interview:  rumors that transitional period will be extended “untrue and baseless”

Yemen TV recently conducted an interview with United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar and conversed with him about significant issues concerning Yemen’s present situation.

Yemen TV: Why are you making this particular visit to Yemen?

Jamal Benomar: The first reason for this visit to Yemen is to prepare for the Security Council meeting on September 18. I will present a report evaluating the political situation in Yemen and to what extent the GCC initiative articles are being implemented. In addition, I came with a number of experts and we are communicating with the technical committee in charge of preparing for the National Dialogue Conference. We are helping the committee to reach the best level of preparation, as we believe in the importance of having a successful dialogue.

YC: From your observation, what has been achieved regarding the political settlement in Yemen?

JBO: I can say that the current situation is completely incomparable to the previous one. The GCC initiative was so clear and is considered a roadmap that determined the responsibility of each side. Recently, there has been good progress made in the settlement despite many challenges related to different aspects of Yemen’s situation. The Security Council admitted the existence of these challenges and this is why it issued the last resolution in support of Hadi’s decisions and decrees.

YC: How would you evaluate the performance of Hadi and the government?

JBO:  Hadi’s decisions have been brave enough, and have aimed first and foremost to implement the GCC initiative articles.

YC: Does the international community and Security Council have a certain position in response to reactions which have come to the surface?

JBO: The Security Council’s message was clear enough, stating that it isn’t allowed to use violence to achieve political goals. The Security Council believes that armed forces and units must be rebuilt; that units refused to follow Hadi’s decisions was the reason behind the issuing of the last resolution.

YC: Is there any possibility of punishments for anyone who is found to be responsible for refusals to follow Hadi’s decisions?

JBO: The Security Council will not hesitate to mete out any punishments on anyone who tries to hinder Hadi’s decisions and the political settlement process.

YC: Donors announced that they will provide $6.4 billion for Yemen. Do you think it is enough and are there any guarantees that these promises will be fulfilled?

JBO: The donors agreed with the government to be committed to transparency and good governance of the support offered for state institutions to be rebuilt. The conference was a clear message of support for efforts by the government and Hadi.

YC: Did UN play a role in mobilizing support for Yemen?

JBO: Of course.

YC: Moving to another issue, have preparations for the dialogue been sufficient? What about the attitude of the Southern Movement leaders, Houthis and those who put down conditions for joining the dialogue?

JBO: The presidential decree to form the committee and specify the principles aimed to give a chance to all societal components to participate in the dialogue. It also aims to make use of similar international experiences in the same regard. Present actions aim to prepare for the dialogue conference and include Southern Movement supporters, Houthis, the youth, and all civil society components.

YC: How does UN receive calls for separation by certain leaders?

JBO: The UN called on all Yemeni sides to participate in a dialogue that focuses on national issues, the rebuilding of the country and on national reconciliation, which eventually will lead to the formation of a new constitution.

YC: Some are wondering who will guarantee that the dialogue’s outcomes will be implemented. There were previous national experiences where different factions signed contracts but never implemented them.

JBO: The conference’s outcomes will be in the form of decisions rather than recommendations.

YC: There are rumors about intentions behind extending the transitional period; at the same time, Hadi has denied all of this. What can you say about this?

JBO: Such rumors are completely untrue and baseless. The resolutions are clear and there are no intentions to extend the transitional period. We see that while the time is too little when compared with the great missions to be accomplished, Yemenis will reach clear elections by 2014 if such great efforts continue.

YC: Two years does not seem to be enough for all the missions to be accomplished. What’s your opinion?

JBO: The situation doesn’t allow for any further time to be lost. To mention an example, revolts against Hadi’s decisions caused Yemen lose almost two months which could have been used to implement many other important procedures. Despite all this, we continue to see a good commitment to the timetable.  If all sides cooperate, everything will be achieved by the specified time.

YC:  The security file is considered the most complicated, as terrorist attacks and explosions have increased. Yemenis are afraid that this may hinder implementation of the political settlement process. What do you have to say about this?

JBO: Extremism, violence and terrorism cannot be defeated unless there is a comprehensive plan, one which depends on a national consensus. All societal components should reject the use of violence. In this regard, government’s efforts have progressed and have Hadi forced Al-Qaeda to leave the areas which they controlled.

YC: Attacks on oil and gas pipelines and electricity power cables continue even though President Hadi said defendants would be prosecuted. He also took a number of decisions in response to the issue. Does the UN support this as well?

JBO: Attacks against oil and gas pipelines and the electricity are crimes that cause Yemeni people to lose much on a monthly basis in a time when Yemen is suffering from an economic crisis. Perpetrators hinder the political process and they may be included in a new Security Council punishment resolution if they continue such acts. The Yemeni people do know and recognize those who are behind these attacks which increase their suffering. Some of the attacks are politically motivated, while others are simply crimes which have no clear motives.  Also, some of these attacks can be attributed to a weak government presence in certain places.

YC: In the same regard, how can political forces enter the dialogue when the restructuring of the army wasn’t completed?

JBO: Tough, major steps were taken in this regard by way of Hadi’s decisions; I have to say that the process is complicated and requires more time. All parties should implement the GCC initiative articles.

YC: The last question is about the Transitional Justice Law; what do you have to say about it?

JBO: The Transitional Justice Law became a public demand as well as a Security Council demand but there is a dispute of sorts regarding the law’s content. We believe that there can never be a perfect model as we know that each country has its own circumstances. However, the principles that should be included in the Transitional Justice Law should include a focus on human rights in the country, consideration of the country’s special situation and circumstances, and consideration of the possibility of achieving national reconciliation and building a lawful state.

We hope this issue gets settled with a consensus from all concerned elements, because all other countries have succeeded because they reached such a consensus for a political settlement.

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