The implementation of the National Dialogue outcomes was the only hope for Yemenis to get out of the critical situation that they are facing. Unfortunately, one year has passed and Yemenis’ hopes haven’t been achieved. On January 25, Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference (NDC) ended after more than ten months of deliberation. The public has grown increasingly skeptical that either the NDC or the transition process will result in a government that responds to their needs.
The NDC has been viewed as the core of Yemen’s transition process. From the beginning, expectations were high, and the agenda was enormous. It was expected to provide a forum for larger political negotiations to take place, from the southern and Houthi issues to questions of political balance and power sharing between main parties as well as provide guidance on a number of institutional reforms, social justice concerns, and other policy issues. These included gaps in rule of law and basic rights protection; weak government institutions and poor governance; widespread corruption; the deep political patronage networks and cooption of state institutions, particularly among the security services; questions of judicial independence and competence; and other social and rights issues. Many civil society actors, elements of the protest movement, and certain political factions also expected the NDC to launch some form of transitional justice process.
On January 21, 2014, the final NDC document, including nearly 1,800 recommendations, was accepted in the plenary of the NDC. NDC representatives also approved a so-called “guarantee document” that extends the transition process for at least one more year under a rationale of time needed to “implement” the NDC outcomes. Under this new “implementation“ phase of the transition, President Hadi would remain in office until a new president is elected, and the constitution drafting, referendum, and elections deadlines originally envisioned in the GCC have been extended. The guarantee document extended the mandate of the “consensus committee,” which played a pivotal role as a tiebreaker and vetting committee in the NDC. An expanded consensus committee would be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the NDC recommendations, both in the constitution-drafting phase and through other measures.
Appointing a Minister for the implementation of NDC outcomes proved that authorized people are working to gain money by delaying the implementation of the outcomes. The new NDC outcomes awareness campaign also proved that they are just spending money on useless matters. Nothing of the NDC outcomes has been implemented yet and people don’t trust the new government and the NDC General Secretariat’s work anymore and accuse them with wasting time to gain more money.
Abdulkarim al-Khaiwani, a political analyst, said that according to all the indications, the obstruction of the NDC outcomes implementation is due to political forces in the new government and the former regime that do not want Yemen to be saved. They also want to keep their positions in the government, because if the outcomes are implemented they will be kicked out and lose a great source of income.
“The implementation of the NDC outcomes is the task of the government in general, and to be reduced to one ministry means there is not a sincere intention to implement them. State building means that each ministry is responsible for implementing its own outcomes,” al-Khaiwani added.
Hamid Rizq, a political analyst and writer, said that the NDC General Secretariat is spending a large amount of money, but unfortunately it spends it on the form and logos, not content. Even the NDC itself turned to archival material and gave opportunities to work for many people illegally, handing out jobs and travel grants that don’t serve the purpose of the work.
Al-Khaiwani added that the Secretariat has an administrative task, but unfortunately it has turned into something like a travel agency that cares only about traveling and advertising. “They made a contract with social organizations to deceive people that they are working on implementing the outcomes. Actually they are cheating people.”
On December 16th, the NDC General Secretariat lunched an awareness posters campaign to educate people about the importance of the NDC outcomes implementation. The campaign was carried out in collaboration with the Secretariat partners and field coordinators in Sana’a, Marib, Amran, al-Baydha, Ibb, Taiz, Hodeida, Raima, Hajjah and al-Mahweet provinces. They provide citizens with awareness posters for vehicles and cars, containing text taken from the NDC outcomes.
In this regard, Esam al-Qaisi, an NDC member, said that it is good to educate people about the outcomes, but the problem is that they had a limited budget for that. “The money spent didn’t match the quality of work,” he said.
According to Amal al-Maqathi, Executive Director in the Yemeni Center for Human Rights, those who do not know their rights do not know how to demand them, and the awareness is important. However, most of the international support goes to just awareness. “It is better to have a specific budget and the rest of the support has to go to the priority which is the implementation. Unfortunately, civil society organizations are directed by donors and are not depending on the priorities of the stage.”
Al-Khaiwani suggested that the success of the government depends on giving the NDC Supervisory Board the full power to be able to control the government and its commitment to implement a chronic program for the outcomes, re-consider the issue of the regions by forming a committee of experts that works on scientific, demographic, economic, and geographic foundations, and there must be a clear economic program of the government based on drying up corruption’s sources.
“Stop cheating the Yemeni people and gather all the efforts and be one hand to build Yemen, work only for the benefit of Yemen and nothing else,” Al-Khaiwani added.