$5 million to support Yemen Parliament, election system [Archives:2008/1163/Local News]

May 12 2008

By: Ismaeel AlGhaberi
Sana'a, June 10 ) The European commission decided to increase the 2007-8 ceiling for EU support to Yemen from 27 million Euros to 51 million Euros, said the European Commission (EC)'s Director of External Relations on Tuesday.

Director of External Relations Thomas Dupla Moral said the decision by the commission to increase the ceiling comes in light of the commission's assessment of the tangible achievements in Yemen in the implementation of reforms. He went on to say that the European Union is keen to continue such support for reforms and development.

Moral's statement came during a meeting in which a number of issues relevant to the enhancement of Yemeni-European cooperation was discussed, as well as a review of progress in the country strategy for the years 2007 -2011.

Yemen and the EC signed on Tuesday an agreement supporting an electoral system and developing Parliament's capacities at the cost of $5.3 million for 2008-2010.

The agreement was signed by Planning and International Cooperation Minister Abdul-Karim Al-Arhabi and EC Director for the Middle East and Southern Mediterranean Affairs Tomas Dupla Del Moral.

The EC's grant aims to strengthen the programs of the Supreme Commission for Election and Referendum, as well as implement the recommendations issued by the EU Election Observation Mission that stressed the importance of revising the legal electoral framework, the independence of state functions and resources, and the need to increase female participation as both voters and candidates for the 2009 parliamentary election.

In a press conference held after the meeting, the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Abdulkareem Al-Arahabi, confirmed the Yemeni government's wish to implement further economic and political reforms.

He stated that the implementation of reforms was justified by national interests and was never imposed from the outside. He added the national reforms agenda is a purely Yemeni agenda which has seen a large number of reforms implemented during the past two years, including the anti-corruption law and the reforms of the state's procurement system. He also expressed satisfaction towards the existing cooperation between Yemen and the European Union, saying that the EU understands the nature of Yemen's needs. He went on to say the doubling of the ceiling of EU support for Yemen is a reflection of the growing development in Yemeni-European relations.

For his part, the Director of external relations in the European Commission praised the country's achievements in the reforms process. He also confirmed that the EU will continue to support Yemeni-European cooperation, especially after the commission decided to enhance the mandate of its representation office in Yemen, a matter which would provide a more flexible framework for bilateral cooperation. The European official added that future cooperation will focus on a number of priorities, including capacity building and creating opportunities to enhancing Yemeni government effort's to fight poverty and reduce unemployment.