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4th International Conference for new and restored Democracies Honor delegates

Date: 4/29/01
Time: 9:59:33 PM
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The Government of Yemen statement to 4th International Conference for new and restored Democracies Honor delegates

The Yemeni Government delegation expresses its appreciation and gratitude to the Government and people of Benin for hosting this very important meeting, and for heir kind hospitality and excellent organization. Our thanks also goes to the UN and to the international agencies and governments which have sponsored this meeting .

We cannot let this occasion pass without voicing our happiness in seeing that Democratic Government is on the rise, and that this meeting is hosting a larger number of countries than its predecessors , and more important than numbers , is the commitment and devotion we all have to Democracy , There is no question in our minds that we and all participants in this gathering realize that no real economic and human development can be achieved without the free and full participation of all citizens , and that the Democratic from of Government is the mechanism for achieving it .

Until the year 1990, Yemen was divided into tow parts, both ruled by Authoritarian regimes, though one claimed to be capitalist and the other communist. Neither of them enjoyed political stability or real economic growth. The fall of communism and the end of the cold war helped to create the right conditions for the unification of Yemen. The unified Republic of Yemen was declared on 22nd May 1990, and with it was the announcement That the new state had chosen the Democratic Parliamentary form of government, with full commitment to a multi- party system and peaceful exchange of power. The new state constitution has clearly outlined the commitment to Democracy as well as to Human rights issues and full participation of citizens in Government through local administration and a decentralized Government.

Since May 1990, two parliamentary elections have taken place as well as the first direct presidential elections in the history of Yemen . All three elections were attended by observers from International organizations, Democracy Institutes and Western and Arab Governments. They have all testified to the fairness of the elections, their transparency, and the absence of any election fixing . Recommendations made by the observers on how to improve the election system and its logistics have been taken into consideration by the High Election Council . Actions have been taken to change the election law by parliament to accommodate these recommendations. It should be pointed out here that the Higher Election council is an independent, nonpartisan body that is in charge of organizing the elections, supervising them, and announcing their results.

Four political parties are represented in the present Yemeni parliament and about 20% of all its seats are occupied by independent parliamentarians. Yemenis are very proud of their parliamentary experience which demonstrates clearly the Freedom of speech and the openness with which political, economic and social issues are debated, and the challenges made to the Governments programs and policies .The parliamentary sessions are broadcasted by satellite TV. to Yemen and the rest of the Arab World . Such broadcasts will undoubtedly lead to political changes in the neighboring countries by the example it gives to others .

During the last few months, the Yemeni parliament has approved a number of constitutional changes which should enhance Democracy, promoting the role of parliamentary members through extending their terms of parliament from 4 to 6 years in order to give them an adequate time to gain experience and reduce the economic cost of elections every 4 years . Other changes cover areas that promote the free economy . Protection of the environment and the accountability of the cabinet and individual ministers to parliament. Although these changes were approved by 75% of the parliament members , it has to go to a national referendum for the changes to become constitutional .

To strengthen the Democratic process, president Saleh has limited the terms for the president tow sessions only, and has transferred the election of the president from parliament to the Citizens by direct election . President Saleh in relinquishing some of his rights is setting Yemen on a truly democratic path, in which all the citizens of Yemen are participating fully in the running of their political , economic and social affairs. This is clearly demonstrated by the growth of the Civil Society Organization whose activities span all forms of political, social and economic development. Civil society in Yemen is becoming both focal and influential in policy making and in the protection of democratic process and human rights . Yemen is proud to declare that it has no political or freedom of speech prisoners and that the international reports on Human rights in Yemen have consistently reported marked improvement and progress in these areas.

We realize in Yemen that in choosing the democratic form of Government, we have chosen a difficult road, but we are encouraged that the community of democracies is growing and with it a sense of togetherness, This togetherness will make our task easier through exchanging experiences and sharing resources. However, this is not enough in itself unless the Developing Countries and the UN and International organizations take the full responsibility of supporting the underdeveloped democracies through generous economic aid to ensure

a full fledged economic development in these countries . Democracy will never flourish or be stable in an atmosphere of poverty and inequity. This is the real challenge we have to face in our present conference .

I cannot finish my presentation to you without reminding you of the Palestinians blight , in their fight for a home land . The Israeli aggression and oppression of the Palestinians is not consistent with the democratic principles the Israel s claim to hold, nor to the basic principles of human rights . For this conference to be true to itself and to the principles it holds to, we should make a clear stand demanding the Palestinian rights to a state of their own according to the UN and Security council resolutions with Jerusalem as its capital . We must also insist on an end to the Israeli occupation and presence on the West Bank and Ghaza.

Last changed: September 15, 2002