A veteran politician, Founder and Head, Justice and Building Party, and state dignitary, Mohammed Abulahoum, who has dedicated his time to solving Yemen’ southern issue in his quality of vice-president of the southern committee at the National Dialogue, opened up last week to reporters on Yemen’s political progress so far.
More than six months after the NDC set out to build a new Yemen by once and for all putting an end to decades’ long political feuds and translating the people’s calls for democratic reforms into institutional realities, Mohammed Abulahoum confirmed that while much remains to be done and agreed upon, the nation is nevertheless on the right tracks.
Positive and confident that Yemen will weather the crisis and come out stronger for it, he exposed his vision of Yemen, one born in equality and political cooperation.
A keen political stratege, Sheikh Abulahoum who has managed over the past few months to gain the trust of southern leaders, something too few politicians have managed to do so far, explained that beyond all other parameters and demands southern leaders fear to be cheated yet again out of an institutional agreement with Sana’a. “The main issue remains the sharing of power and wealth, not so much the number of regions,” Abulahoum stressed.
He continued, “But we have appeased our southern brothers’ fears … the time of danger and anxiety is behind us.”
Eager to concentrate on the NDC successes, Abulahoum stressed that representatives had fulfilled their mandate by translating into realities the demands of the Arab Spring and ultimately the people of Yemen. Citing progress on the southern issue, the Sheikh pointed to the fact that following decades of injustice and abuses of power, southerners had now been given assurances their legitimate claims would be fulfilled and their families compensated. But more importantly, NDC representatives managed to agree on a complete regime changed by transitioning Yemen from a republican model to a federal one in just six months of pour-parler, a historical political achievement in itself.
Federalism will guarantee equal share of power and wealth, the very points which have plagued relations in between south and north Yemen over the last three decades.
Abulahoum explained that the Southern Secessionist Movement had already agreed to a sharing system based on population ratio as opposed to geography, a major breakthrough in terms of political mind-set. Rather than think along regional lines, Yemeni politicians, both northern and southern have come to relate to Yemen as a unit. According to the politician, Yemen will have two capitals: 6 months in Sana’a and 6 months in Aden.
He went on saying that all had agreed that Yemen will be divided in two regions, each broken into several provinces. While he admitted that details still needed to be ironed out, he noted that NDC representatives has nevertheless managed to secure a base consensus, one which will serve as a foundation for all future debates and negotiations. “I am convinced that this challenge is for all of us to bear.”
Keen to put Yemen institutional metamorphosis into perspective Abulahoum noted that such institutional challenges had always taken time. He stressed that Yemenis should not focus on what was issues were left to solved but rather celebrate the tremendous breakthrough which the nation was able to manoeuvre its way through in such a short period of time.
The Sheikh insisted that Yemen had successfully laid the foundation of a strong federal state; one which will with the decades evolve according to the people’s will and needs. In his mind calling for a referendum at this stage in time will not serve any purpose.
“If we look at Cyprus 40 years to resolve its political crisis and it took Ireland 15.”
In essence, Mohammed Abulahoum, a man whose political experience and astute understanding of Yemen have proven essential to the resolution of the southern issue, is calling on the people of Yemen and the media to refrain from passing hasty judgement on the coalition government and the NDC by remembering what task their officials and representatives were asked to fulfil over 6 months ago.
And while the NDC cannot claim in any way, shape or form to have answered all of Yemen’s demands, it laid solid enough foundations for future governments to build on and progress.