By: Michele Cervone d'Urso, the head of the European Union Delegation to Yemen
SANA’A, Feb. 20 (Saba)- The Yemeni people have shown courage, determination and commitment to driving forward and launching a process of political transformation and social justice in the past year. This revolutionary spirit has triggered the transition process and the 21 February peaceful transfer of power through early Presidential elections. The international community has been united in speaking with one voice in support of Yemen's transition and the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people.
The Yemeni people endured many sacrifices in the past year: hundreds of citizens lost their lives and were injured; the most vulnerable have suffered from rising transport and food commodity prices and limited electricity and water; armed confrontations and check points spread throughout Yemen's cities. Yemen was on the brink of a dangerous conflict.
Yemen has now turned a new page since the signature on 23 November of the GCC initiative. While significant challenges remain - notably in the areas of security, social delivery and inclusivity of the process - there have been incremental and visible changes, under exceptional circumstances, due to the efforts of Vice President Hadi, the National reconciliation Government and the Military and Security Committee.
The 21 February elections will empower Vice President Hadi and the Government to engage with all political groups, pave the way to the national dialogue process and respond to the enormous expectations of the Yemeni people. A special effort will be made to reach out and bring on board all the non-signatories of the GCC initiative in an inclusive political process. It will take time and Yemen has significant political, economic and social challenges but the elections are an initial step towards a civilian state which respects the rights of all Yemenis.
The GCC initiative has two phases: The first phase allowed establishing the transitional institutions, improving security and preparing for the early Presidential elections to be held on 21 February. This phase will conclude tomorrow with the early Presidential elections. The elections will unlock a 2 year transition process allowing all segments of Yemeni society to take part of the national dialogue process and the reform of the constitution to establish a modern and democratic civil state.
The broad participation of the Yemeni people in the elections marks an important milestone in Yemen's transition. This is a vote to open a new chapter in the country’s history – a chapter offering the promise of long-awaited change for the people of Yemen. It is hence a unique opportunity for all of Yemen's political blocs to leave behind confrontational politics, act in good faith and signal their commitment to a common and better future. There is still a long and winding road ahead but the Yemenis have shown the capacity to be able to reach consensus, work together and build a new State.
The European Union and the international community are committed to working with the national reconciliation Government to ensure we have broad participation in the elections and a credible national dialogue process that brings together the Yemeni people under the principles of tolerance and coexistence.