January 17, 2012
January 17, 2012
There are doubts over holding the presidential elections in its scheduled date, Yemen’s foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qerabi, told Al Arabiya.
“In light of the security deterioration in the country, it would be difficult that the presidential elections could be held on its scheduled time on Feb. 21,” he said in an interview with Al Arabiya from the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Qerabi is a member of a Yemeni delegation, led by Prime Minister Mohammed Basindwa, in a multi-leg tour in the Gulf region, for the main aim of seeking political and economic support to the impoverished country.
“All the leaders we have met with in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have expressed their full support to Yemen. They all fully understand that Yemenis in need of the Gulf economic support,” Qerabi said.
Asked on the Yemeni law granting amnesty to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Qerabi said that there are many parties that do not approve the law. “Anyways, the law that will be issued will not differ from what came in the Gulf Cooperation Council-brokered initiative in this regard,” he said.
Basindwa’s government signed off on the law granting Saleh and those who worked with him immunity from prosecution, a central element of the deal rejected by youth protesters, who denounce the interim government for agreeing to it.
Saleh has agreed to step down under the terms of a deal crafted by the six-member GCC — and backed by a U.N. Security Council resolution — aimed at ending nearly a year of protests demanding he steps down.
Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Basindwa said that Yemen needs billions of dollars in aid and has received assurances of financial help from oil-rich Gulf Arab neighbors after a year of violent political turmoil over the fate of its president,
Basindwa, who leads a government tasked with preparing for a February election to pick a successor to Saleh, also said he wanted Saleh to leave Yemen before the vote.
“I’m hopeful he will leave (before Feb. 21),” he told Reuters in the interview, on the sidelines of a conference in the United Arab Emirates, one leg of a regional tour aimed at drumming up aid.
“But let us wait and see,” he added.
Forces loyal to Saleh are believed to have killed over 200 protesters during the uprising, in which a rebel army division and militias loyal to tribal chieftains have waged bouts of open war with his forces in the capital Sana’a and elsewhere.
Basindwa said aid from Yemen’s neighbors was crucial to rebuilding the country, one of the poorest in the Arab world, and which the United States and Saudi Arabia view as a potential foothold for al Qaeda.
“In late March or early April they will establish a fund for Yemen,” he said. “Yemen needs a lot of money to rebuild to achieve prosperity, to eliminate poverty, unemployment and thereby also terrorism. It needs billions of dollars, tens of billions of dollars.”
He said Yemen has received assurances of financial help from the GCC countries led by Saudi Arabia, but no set figures or a timeline for disbursing the funds.
Any aid would bypass his government and be spent directly on approved development projects, he said.
“Our role will be just to submit a list of projects Yemen needs in all its governorates,” Basindwa said.
“They’ll after (that) hold tenders and choose the right companies to implement. We will have nothing to do with choosing the consultants, companies that will carry out such projects… We don’t want cash money from that fund going to our Treasury.”
Any successor to Saleh will face multiple, overlapping regional conflicts including resurgent separatist sentiment in the south, where Islamist fighters have also seized chunks of territory and control large parts of the province of Abyan.
Yemen’s political chaos has deepened a pre-existing humanitarian crisis, with about half a million displaced and one-third of children suffering from moderate or acute malnutrition, according to a recent government and U.N. survey.
By AL Arabiya