Al-Eryani: Democracy and Economic development go hand in hand [Archives:2007/1059/Front Page]

June 14 2007

By: Yemen Times Staff
SANA'A, June 13 – At a ceremony yesterday inaugurating the preparatory meeting to establish an Arab Charter for Democracy, presidential advisor Abdulkarim Al-Eryani stated that democracy and development are two inseparable concepts, adding that democratic development and partnering with civil society are very important if Yemen is to develop.

Al-Eryani added that the charter should push forward democratic development in Arab nations, noting that it is civil society's role to lobby their governments to adopt the charter toward establishing democracy in the Arab world.

For her part, Qatar's Princess Hessa Al-Thani stated to the meeting participants that one of the most difficult tasks is addressing the charter and not losing sight of what's at the helm.

That is, the most important values and principles, which will be dealt with in the draft charter, including equality, freedoms, education, work and a decent life, by allowing people to choose who represents them in line with the principles and foundations of human rights, which are deeply rooted in Islamic culture.

The princess explained that the democracy movement's objective is to improve quality of life and lift the constraints limiting freedoms, with special reference to women, children, minorities and the disabled. She added that the real success will be in translating meeting talks into actual reality in life.

She further expressed her disappointment at society's educated and well-informed segments taking a back seat rather than being the drivers of change for better in the Arab world.

Peter Dimitroff, director of the National Democratic Institute in Yemen, maintained that democracy can't be established overnight. While noting that no one version of democracy suits all, he said Yemen's is an example worth advocating. He added that the United States is willing to provide technical support to Gulf Cooperative Council countries in this regard.

The European Commission's Ralf Dreyer stated that although the concept of democracy is new to the region, Yemen has had considerable success expanding public understanding about democracy. He said that while Yemen isn't a perfect democracy, it is a nation heading toward further democratic development.

He further noted that democracy is a mechanism for ttransferring power, pointing out that democratic development not only facilitates economic development, it also allows for sustainable security in a country.

Jamal Al-Awadhi, director of the National Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development, stated that there's an urgent and important need to enhance civil society organizations' participation in the democratic development process, adding that they can be active partners in developing the Arab Charter for Democracy.