Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi announced the conclusion of the final session of the National Dialogue Conference yesterday, following the unanimous ratification of a final agreement that will form the basis of the country’s new constitution.
In his closing remarks to the conference, President Hadi said: “There are serious decisions to be made after the national dialogue has concluded regarding recent security breaches.”
His remark was a reference to ongoing violence between Yemen’s various tribal and ethnic factions, following Tuesday’s assassination of a Houthi delegate just as the dialogue conference was drawing to a close.
Security sources in the capital, Sana’a, said that gunmen fired at the car of Ahmad Sharaf Al-Din as he was travelling to the hotel where the conference was held.
President Hadi condemned the assassination in his closing remarks, saying it was a “destructive terrorist act that targeted the security and stability of the country.”
He added: “Even if the president and all his team were assassinated, the dialogue must continue to defeat the forces of evil.”
The Houthis have announced the withdrawal of their representatives from the final session of the dialogue conference in response to the assassination. In a statement, the group called the assassination a “heinous crime,” blaming it on “American intelligence activity.”
Hadi called on the Yemeni people to “stand by me, for the sake of Yemen,” adding that the dialogue’s closing ceremony will be held this Saturday, January 25, and will be attended by Arab and international figures.
Hadi became president in a consensual election with one candidate in 2012, with a pre-defined single two-year term to oversee Yemen’s transition period, under the terms of the Gulf Initiative.
His term was originally scheduled to end in February. But earlier this week delegates to the national dialogue agreed to extend it by one year in order to give him time to oversee the implementation of the dialogue’s decisions.
Hadi said the outcomes of the conference would “belong to all the people of Yemen, who will protect it, ensure its implementation and punish those who try to hinder its application on the ground.” He pledged to “work on implementing it [the agreement] accurately, literally and in a gradual manner in the coming period.”
The National Dialogue Conference opened on March 18 last year, with 565 members representing various political forces and civil society groups. It has run for 10 months, with constant extensions pushing the dialogue’s duration well past the six-month limit set by the Gulf Initiative.