Yemen, the only country where an Arab Spring revolt led to a negotiated settlement, on Monday launched a UN-backed national dialogue aimed at paving the way towards a new constitution and elections. The talks are, however, being boycotted by hardline southern factions who staged a general strike and protests in the port city of Aden on Sunday against the initiative. The dialogue, scheduled to run six months, brings together 565 representatives of Yemen’s various political groups – from secessionists in the south to Zaidi rebels in the north, in addition to civil society representatives. They aim to draft a new constitution and prepare for general elections in February 2014, after a two-year transition led by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
The dialogue was being held as per the UN-brokered deal that eased former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office following an 11-month uprising against his 33-year rule.
The talks, originally scheduled to start in mid-November, were delayed mainly due to the refusal of factions in the Southern Movement – campaigning for autonomy or secession for the formerly independent south – to join the talks. Most factions have finally agreed to take part after months of negotiations and under UN pressure.
But the movement’s hardliners led by South Yemen’s former president Ali Salem Al Baid have dug in their heels, insisting instead on negotiations between two independent states in the north and south.
Full Article: Oman Tribune – the edge of knowledge.