Government to ban arms trade [Archives:2007/1045/Local News]

April 26 2007

SANA'A, April 24 ) Ministry of Interior announced Monday a draft law to shut down arm shops in the country.

Minister of Interior Rashad Al-Alemi said his ministry is determined to implement the draft resolution during the next phase which is a three-fold project.

The draft resolution aims also to identify the number of bodyguards for the state's high figures as well as to gather heavy and medium weapons during the next six months. The project is important and tends to provide security and stability in the country, Al-Alemi said.

The announcement came two weeks after the National Defence Council approved a plan set by the ministry of interior to collect small and heavy arms as well as firecrackers from markets.

The first phase of the plan is confined to identify the places of arm trading. The second one would identify types of arms and compensation amount for each piece in accordance with its model and condition. And, the third phase is related to how field committees would collect arms and provide financial compensations for arm owners.

Arm bearing is a part of Yemeni society traditions, especially in rural areas, where 75 percent of Yemen's 21 million inhabitants live. As a result, It is estimated that there are about 40-50 million pieces of arms nationwide. In the capital city, Sana'a, it is common to see state high figures and Sheikhs accompanied by heavily armed men.

A draft law to control and organize possession of arms has already been passed on to the parliament but has not been approved yet. Further, It is decided that a media campaign on the danger of arm bearing will commence during the three stages.

There are approximately 18 legitimate markets for arms trade nationwide. In 2005, the government embarked on a plan to collect heavy weapons, which reach 9 million pieces according to a survey by the UN in 2003, from tribal communities and arm dealers. It is worth noting that around 44 million dollars were spent to buy back weapons.