By Asma’a Al-Mohattwari and Mohammed Al-Haleely
The first general sessions of the National Dialogue have ended. Members will split up into nine working groups to resolve various issues, including the southern issue and the Sa’ada conflict, as well the plight of internally displaced persons, terror and unity.
Each of the nine groups will have between 40 and 80 members. Dr. Yaseen Saeed Nu’man says the success of the conference depends on members’ commitment to the conference and to reaching results in the best interest of the country.
“Each member should realize his responsibility and be committed to constructive discussion that will result in solutions and agreements,” Nu’man said.
There has been much discussion about the progress members have been able to reach, overcoming their respective group’s conflicts with one another. Meetings were places to envision a new future, not harp on the past, as emphasized by the dialogue.
The final statement released at the end of the first sessions stated that participants were able to break down the walls between them, paving the way for the next stages of the dialogue. Vital to this step is the overcoming of hostilities between members and need for participants to take seriously their responsibility to towards the country,” the statement read.
At the end of the first general sessions, the nine groups presented first drafts of their work, which they will continue to work on for the next two months. After two months time, the second general sessions of the National Dialogue Conference will begin.
The drafts included the goals, programs and deadlines; they specified the need to meet with experts, communities and concerned officials from different regions.
The nine groups composed a list of general goals and necessary outcomes, which they hope will be a basis for a new constitution and policies.
Head of the Rights and Freedoms contingent, Arwa Othman, stated that members could reduce their anxiety and suspicion about one another by listening and getting to know each other. This is a new phase for Yemen, she said.
Her group has one of the most important tasks, Othman said.
“We will focus on cultural diversity, equality, human rights, minorities and the rights of non-Muslims.”
The security group expressed optimism regarding elections. He too believes that dialogue has improved relations amongst groups.
“The difficulty we are facing is an unclear vision. We are tasked with conceptualizing military, security and civil institutions for the future,” Security group member Abdulhameed Melhi Maiser said.
Mo’een Abdulmalik, head of the independent contingent, says that after two days of the conference, members came together and forgot about their past issues and hostilities. There has been great improvement for the dialogue after the formation of the nine groups, Abdulmalik said.
“In our team, our biggest problem is the lack of information and studies on the important topics are tasked with solving. We are still waiting for the secretariat to provide us with these materials,” he said.
Head of the committee tasked with resolving the Sada’a conflict, Nabeela Al-Zubair, stated that the province has witnessed eight separate wars over the past nine years, devastating the region.
“Despite the difficulties, the dialogue will find resolutions to the issues and set the foundation for a brighter future,” she said.
If members of the dialogue can accept each other and come together to resolve conflicts, members of the public can as well, President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s Women Affairs advisor, Fa’eqa Assaied stated.
A workshop was held during the first general sessions to train participants on debating and negotiation skills.
Also during the first sessions, a report on the progress of Yemen indicated a rise in illiteracy and a decrease in education and health measurements. Poverty in the country increased; about 50 percent of Yemenis live below the poverty line. Yemen’s water scarcity issues may lead to a further deterioration of the economy, the reported stated.
Yemen’s must crucial issues, Dr. Al-Khader Bin Holaes says, are the economy, education and healthcare.
Political analyst Moneer Al-Maouri says that exact policies that the dialogue comes up with are less important than the consensus and support behind those policies. Yemen desperately needs stability, Al-Maouri said, starting with economic stability.