So, it’s over. January 25th saw the closing ceremony of the National Dialogue Conference, held at the Republican Palace in Sana’a.
In the palace itself, there was a lot of backslapping and congratulations, but outside, the reaction from other political factions was more reserved.
In his speech at the ceremony, President Hadi said that the end of the National Dialogue was the start of “better future” for Yemenis, describing the dialogue as “a representation of Yemeni wisdom that has sometimes disappeared, but has never died within us.”
He said that all sides had given “difficult concessions”, but that this was for the greater good of Yemen. Consensus was a theme of his speech, and he added that Yemen would not be able to move forward except on the basis of there being “no victor and no vanquished, no oppressor and no oppressed,” with everyone equal under the law.
Hadi also made reference to the events of the past that have led to the position that Yemen is in today, referring to the Sa’dah wars, the 1994 Civil War, the 2011 Youth Revolution, as well as the emergence of al-Qaeda. The end was designed to present himself and the NDC as symbols of change in the country, saying that the 2011 Youth Revolution was a continuation of the revolutions of the 1960s.
In his speech, the UN’s special adviser on Yemen, Jamal Ben Omar, described the NDC as an “unprecedented achievement in the history of Yemen.” He congratulated Yemenis and said that they should be proud, adding that they had put their weapons down, and were breaking free “from the past of conflicts, oppression, corruption, and abuse of power and wealth.”
Ben Omar referred to the difficulties the National Dialogue has faced, saying that it has been “no picnic,” and that it had been “a difficult birth.” He also referred to the assassinations, including the most recent one of Dr Ahmed Sharaffedine.
With regards to the Southern Issue, Ben Omar said that he called upon “the Southerners to be responsive to the Agreement for the Just Solution of the Southern Question, which was agreed and signed by all constituencies.”
Finally, he added that the NDC’s Outcome Document “manifests a victory for the project of peaceful change as opposed to fighting and war, a victory for the future of Yemen against the past and those who cling to it.” That was a clear reference to Saleh and his clique.
Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was not present at the NDC closing ceremony, but he instead recorded an interview with his son’s Yemen Today television channel in the evening, and gave his reaction.
Saleh’s response to Ben Omar was fiery, and demonstrated the breakdown in the relationship between the two men. He asked Ben Omar, “what’s it to you”, and said that he should stick to getting paid by the UN and writing his memoirs where he would say that he was successful in Yemen.
Saleh also said that Hadi’s speech was emotional, and that Hadi is simply seeking the approval of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Ali al-Bokhaiti (Houthis)
al-Bokhaiti, the Houthi spokesman, responded to Hadi’s comments on those walking out of the National Dialogue being cowards.
On the Houthi channel, al-Maseerah, al-Bokhaiti defiantly said that the Houthis were “not cowards,” and that, unlike him, they did not have armed protection when they travel around Sana’a [don’t think that’s true].