The ruling Yemeni General People’s Congress has announced its decision not to participate in negotiations in the National Dialogue Conference, citing their disagreement with the membership of a subcommittee of the Southern Issue Working Group known as the 8+8 Committee.

That subcommittee was formed two days ago to develop solutions to the Southern issue. It has 16 members, including two representatives of the ruling General People’s Congress. The remaining 14 members come from other political parties, including Al-Hirak, the most prominent Southern group.

Representatives of the General People’s Congress Party stated in a meeting held late on Wednesday that “the Congress refuses the diversion in the dialogue’s objectives, and also rejects dialogue between various components being replaced by binary negotiations between the North and the South.” According to a statement on the party’s website, it believes what is taking place is dangerous and “contrary to the constitution and the laws, rules and procedures of the national dialogue and contrary to the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism, and it is unacceptable.”

The National Dialogue Conference is set to wrap up at the end of September. The discussions began on March 18, with the participation of 565 people. The nine key areas of work at the conference are the Southern issue, the Sa’ada issue, transitional justice, state-building, good governance, military and security policy, the protection of vulnerable groups, rights and freedoms, and development.

The dialogue has seen progress on most of the nine issues, particularly those related to the state and its various factions.

Most importantly, delegates to the conference seem to be close to deciding on the form of the state, with the most likely options being either a federal state composed of several provinces or a federation with two provinces. The 8+8 Committee has ruled out a disengagement option or a simple centralized state.

In a related development coming out of a national dialogue session on Thursday, the Good Governance Group issued a four-point roadmap for a longer transitional period for the “new Yemen.”

According to the media center for the national dialogue, the roadmap submitted to the 8+8 Committee included “electing the current president as president of the republic for the transitional phase (five years), as this is in keeping with the period stipulated in the previous constitution.” It also specified a five-year “implementation period for the dialogue’s outcomes, in addition to transforming the national dialogue into the constituent assembly for this period, headed by its president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.”

The committee also discussed the basic principles for the distribution of wealth and power within the federal state and the administrative concerns of such a state, including whether it would be better to begin with identifying the number of regions and federations or if it was better to primarily agree on the principles that will determine the number of regions and then distributing power between them and the central authority.

Source: Asharq Al-Awsat, September 13, 2013,