Sana’a conference on democracy, political reforms and freedom of expressionDr. Al-Eryani: Effective media isn’t free, yet [Archives:2006/958/Front Page]

June 26 2006

SANA'A, June 25 ) While inaugurating the Sana'a conference on Democracy, Political Reforms and Freedom of Expression, President Ali Abdullah Saleh gave a fervent speech in support of Yemen's steps toward democracy, calling on donor countries to aid Yemen's political reforms, as Yemeni society has developed a sincere will to live in a full-fledged democracy.

“Democracy is a choice we made and by which we stand; however, it goes hand in hand with economic development,” Saleh stated, “Therefore, we call on the developed world to offer a helping hand to Yemen's economic development, as well as other developing countries in need of assistance.”

Saleh also mentioned the situations in Iraq and Palestine, requesting the world's governments, including the United States and permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, to condemn acts of violence Israel perpetrates against Palestinians. He advised the U.S. and other occupying forces ian Iraq to call for a national dialogue to include all political parties and forces in Iraq without exception, asserting that the results of such dialogue would reduce up to 80 percent of all violence in Iraq.

Thereafter, the president's political advisor Dr. AbdulKarim Al-Eryani, who chaired the conference, suggested in his speech that such conferences allow revising steps Yemen and the region have undertaken toward democratic development, indicating that democracies within the region either are in their infancy or not born yet.

He also indicated that current press freedom in Yemen is only partial, as the country's most important media, i.e. radio and television, still are government controlled. Therefore, Al-Eryani asserted, such government control of media is a setback to Yemen's democratic development and an obstacle to the country's future democratic development.

Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRITC) Chairman Izz Al-Din Al-Asbahi indicated that one of the conference's most important pillars is to establish a mechanism to protect journalists and aid their mission as an integral part of boosting democracy in Yemen.

Organized by the Yemeni government in partnership with Yemeni NGO HRITC and international NGO, No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), the conference is sponsored by Yemen, Italy and Turkey. It also is organized with the support of the Netherlands, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the U.S. Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).