Political Analysis

Yemen mulls Shura Council expansion

National Yemen


By Faisal Darem
Yemen’s House of Representatives last week gave initial approval to an amendment to theconstitution that would expand Shura Council membership to all components of society.

The council referred the amendment to a panel comprised of members of the committees on constitutional and legal affairs, and sharia legislation for consideration.

The group is to submit a report to the House within two months for a final vote.

“The crux of the amendment to Article 126 of the current constitution is to implement the outputs of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) and the document of guarantees, which stipulates the inclusion of all components [of society] in the Shura Council in the same proportion of representationthey obtained at the NDC, in order to broaden the base of consensus and participation,” said Ali Abu Haliqa, chairman of the House constitutional and legal committee.

Parliament will take the final vote on whether to adopt the amendment in two months in order to give council members and the various parliamentary blocs time to discuss it, he told Al-Shorfa.

This will help ensure the amendment can be “realistic in implementation and serve to expand participation, the national consensus and representation of all components”, he said.

The constitution and relevant laws must be amended during this period to bring them into line with the NDC outputs, said House media committee chairman Abdo al-Huthaifi.

“The amendment will serve security, stability and the public peace through the inclusion of all unrepresented political and social components in the Shura Council in the same proportion of their representation in the NDC, with a guaranteed 50% representation for the south,” he said.

The amendment seeks to increase the number of Shura Council seats from 111 to 222, and to lower the qualifying age requirement for membership, which the constitution had set at 40, he said.

In the next stage, the Shura Council must focus on putting forward studies on laws that need to be changed or amended to make them consistent with the outputs of the NDC, al-Huthaifi said.

“The [guidance] document on the implementation of the guarantees of the comprehensive national dialogue emphasised expanding the political participation of all the components that participated in the NDC through expanding the Shura Council, since it is a constitutional institution that is actively involved in the state’s strategic decision making process,” NDC Deputy Secretary-General Yasser al-Ruaini told Al-Shorfa.

It will be important to expand the council’s membership in line with the tasks assigned to it in the upcoming stage, he said, especially in relation to the follow-up on the implementation of the NDC’s decisions.

“The House of Representatives is the foundation from which we launch the implementation of the outputs of the NDC,” he said. “Foremost among [these outputs] is doubling the Shura Council’s membership through the inclusion of more people who possess the necessary qualifications and experience to make the important decisions required in the upcoming stage.”

Expansion of the Shura Council will mean its decision-making mechanism will change in compliance with the Gulf initiative and its mechanism, whereupon consensus, or at least a three-fourths majority of the council, will be the basis of decision-making, he said.