President Saleh ruthlessly attacks Israel and criticizes occupiers in the region:Democracy is the right choice: Saleh [Archives:2004/702/Front Page]

January 12 2004

Yemen Times Staff

Sana'a, January 11 – The first day of the regional conference “Inter-Governmental Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and the Role of the International Criminal Court” started in Sana'a on Sunday with an extra-strong emphasis that democracy is for all Arabs, the right choice.
President Saleh stressed on Yemen's confidence in that democracy is the right way to go not only for Yemen, but for all other Arab countries. “Democracy is the choice of the modern age for all peoples of the world and the rescue ship for political regimes particularly in our third world. It is the way to achieve security, stability, development and a better future for our countries.” he said.

Human rights & civil society organizations
President Saleh also noted the importance of human rights and the role of civil society organizations in development. He indicated the need to “remove anything that contradicts them (human rights) and stand against all forms of discrimination, oppression and exploitation of the human being and his rights.”

He also mentioned that Yemen is among the few Arab countries that established and promoted civil society organizations. “Civil society associations were also established by direct and free election, which represent the feature of our new Yemeni modern era and an authentic continuation for our people's very old beliefs and practices in democracy since ancient ages.”

Ruthless attack on Israel
The President dedicated almost the whole second half of his speech to issues of respect of states' sovereignty, non-intervention in their internal affairs, and occupation. He strongly criticized Israel for its violations of Palestinians' rights. “The world should have its loud voice and firm stance to stop those violations and to pressure Israel to implement the Road Map and adhere to the resolutions of the international legitimacy related to the Arab Israeli conflict in order that just and comprehensive peace might prevail in the region.”

End US occupation demanded
The President moved on to Iraq and called the ongoing occupation in Iraq has caused 'regrettable developments' and demanded for the rapid end of US occupation of the country. “The regrettable developments occurring in Iraq are requiring from the United States of America and the allied forces to rapidly end their occupation of Iraq, and to enable the brotherly Iraqi people to freely administer their own affairs to protect the security, stability, sovereignty and unity of Iraq and its territorial integrity.

Bonino stresses on civil society organs
Emma Bonino, the founder of the organizing body of the conference, No Peace without Justice said in her statement during the inaugural session that the conference's idea to bring together governmental, parliamentary, and non-governmental representatives was an appreciated step.
She gave eight major views on behalf of her organization about democracy in saying that her organization:
– There is no such thing as the 'clash of civilizations'
– All religions, including Islam are compatible with democracy
– Democracy is least worst system in order to promote human and economic development
– Democracy founded on the principle that the government of a country is based on the will and consent of the people and requires the separation between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches
– Elections based on universal suffrage are a hallmark of democracy and should involve women as nominees and voters
– Democracy is a process and cannot be achieved overnight
– Democracy can be enhanced by working with the international community and international organizations
Bonino concluded her speech by saying that her organization's role has come to an end by holding the conference. “It makes us in No Peace Without Justice see that our role has come to an end, as this is first and foremost your Conference. The results of this Conference and the common vision we aspire to and your willingness to engage one another in dialogue in a spirit of frankness and understanding lie in your hands.” she said.

Arab League Secretary General sets priorities
In his speech, Amr Mousa, the Arab League Secretary General strongly criticized the way Arab countries are requested to be democratic, while their demands in ending occupation of Palestine and Iraq are not met. “How can we be demanded to do such things when our demands are never met?” he asked.
He also stressed on the need to have priorities for Arab countries in terms of economic and social development and ensure that democracy comes from within the country and does not come in a 'recipe' ready to be taken by Arab countries.

Sana'a Declaration
The final product of the whole conference is going to be the final resolutions laid in the “Sana'a Declaration” to be read on Monday January 12. The draft resolution, published in last edition of Yemen Times, is expected to be updated and modified to meet the requirements and ambitions of the participants.
But as one Yemeni participant said, “We need it to be translated into deeds as we have heard too much talk, and want solid action.”
“Whether the declaration will be translated to action is yet to be seen.” he commented.

Overall assessment & disappointments
Some participants have openly expressed their disappointment in a number of issues:
1- Logistics were not properly done for some guests, who had to wait for hours before moving to their reserved hotel rooms.
2- Bags and preliminary material and papers were presented to some guests later than expected.
3- NGO participation was low, and many guests were disappointed in the level of representation of certain countries.
But many others have praised the efforts of the organizers and said that things went smoothly for them concerning logistics went quite well, but hoped that future events would be better organized.