Momentum Increases for Sanaa-Hosted  Summit of Democratizing Nations [Archives:1999/22/Front Page]

May 31 1999

The pace is picking up. Preparations for the summit of 160 delegates are in full swing. Already, there are confirmations from 100 participants, including several heads of state and government. But, the jewel on the crown is Hillary Clinton – also confirmed. 
The event, slated for 27-30 June, 1999, is being organized by the Washington-based National Democratic Institute. The Yemeni Government is more than glad to host the officials and pro-democracy activists from Benin, Bolivia, El-Salvador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, and, of course, Yemen. 
Yemeni officials are trying hard to play their cards right on this occasion which is an immense public relations opportunity. 
Several steps have been taken in this regard. 
First, the political spectrum of Yemen was brought in to participate. The Yemeni official delegation of ten persons includes representatives from the ruling PGC party, some of the larger opposition parties and well-known pro-democracy activists. 
Second, the general public is being informed of what the event is all about. A major information drive is in the works to explain who is coming, why this group will be here together, and what it all means for our people. 
Third, and most important of all, President Saleh is reaching out to key local media personalities. He is making a plea on the basis that “We are all in this together.” Not everyone has been won over yet, but he has made several attempts, and is expected to make more over the next weeks. 
Meanwhile, Sanaa is busy getting ready to receive its many distinguished guests. Kendall Dwyer, forum coordinator, has already arrived. She will stay put till the end of the event. 
Yemeni officials are worried about the large number of support staff and media personnel coming with the delegates. “Where to put them and what kind of facilities they will need is a major concern.” Mrs. Clinton alone is coming with some 60 assistants. Already her pre-advance team of security and logistics personnel have paid a quick visit to Sanaa. 
Some of the heads of state/government will have a similar number of people in their entourage. 
The major hotels in the city are fully booked. Visitors not associated with the conference will have to stay out of Sanaa during the second half of June.