EU Warns Saleh’s Relatives Of Creating Obstacles To Elections
SANA’A, Jan. 28 – President Ali Abdullah Saleh finally arrived in the US for short-term private medical treatment on Saturday night, according to the Republic of Yemen Foreign Press Office. Saleh, along with a number of family members, left to Oman last Sunday, on route to the United States. Meanwhile, preparations were ongoing for the coming one-man election, which will see Vice President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi officially sworn in as president for the coming two years. Saleh’s absence will easy the election process according to political analysts. Hugues Mingarelli, Deputy Director-General for External Relations at the European Union, said that in order to complete preparations for the coming presidential elections the Yemeni government would establish a “communication committee” to liaise with those groups left out of the power transition deal signed in November. “We are focusing on the next election, the most important thing now is that the election is held on time and for this election to succeed, all the segments in Yemen have to be included, all Yemenis, not only the Joint Meeting Party and the General People’s Congress,” said Mingarelli. The Southern movement, the Houthis and Youth movements were not included in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreement, despite being considered as powerful players in Yemen’s political sphere. He also stressed the importance of a united Yemen. Mingarelli pointed out the important role the media has to play in the run up to elections by highlighting the efforts made to make it happen and also by encouraging Yemeni people to vote for Hadi and give him the “acceptable legitimacy” that will ease his work in the transitional period. The Gulf agreement stated that a new draft constitution should be written by the end of the two year transitional period. Mingarelli said that in order to write the new constitution, a national dialogue should be established to pave the way for truly democratic, free and impartial elections after those two years. While he added that would be obstacles, he said that the first step was to elect Hadi on February 21. Commenting on the widely condemned immunity law, granting Saleh freedom from prosecution, Mingarelli said it was necessary and the price to pay in order to reach real democracy later. In accordance with the GCC agreement, a military committee was formed in December, tasked with unifying the armed forces, removing tanks and sandbags from the streets and returning soldiers to their camps. While this was successful in some areas, parts of Yemen’s major cities that saw the most fighting, such as Hasaba in Sana’a, have seen little change. Mingarelli stressed the need for security reforms in order to stabilize the country, adding that economic issues also needed to be resolved. He also said that if Saleh’s relatives create any obstacles to next month’s elections, that it would be necessary to remove them from positions of power. Moreover, Mingarelli commented on the worker strikes, or “institutional revolution” against corruption in institutions, saying that it is a positive move. “It is not a surprise that the workers are striking; working conditions are difficult and salaries are low so going on strike is not a crime,” he said. However, he pointed out that Yemen was already the poorest country in the Arab region before last year’s political crisis so people should not expect change overnight.