YCA - Sandwell
YCA - Sandwell
YCA - Sandwell
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The successful elections quickly gave way to political turmoil. In August 1993 Vice President al-Beidh withdrew from Sanaa to Aden and ceased to participate in the political process. This followed his visit to the United States, where he had held talks with Vice President Al Gore, apparently without the consent of President Saleh. From his base at Aden, al-Beidh issued a list of conditions for his return to Sanaa; the conditions centered on the security of the YSP, which, according to the vice president, had been subject to northern-instigated political violence since unification. al-Beidh also protested what he considered the increasing economic marginalization of the south.

The deadlock persisted into the later months of 1993, despite extensive mediation efforts by representatives from several foreign governments. In January 1994 Yemen's principal political parties initialed a Document of Pledge and Agreement, designed to end the six-month feud between Yemen's president and vice president; the document called for a thorough review of the constitution and the country's economic programs and goals. The document was signed by the two leaders in February, but military clashes occurred almost immediately thereafter. In April Oman and Jordan halted mediation efforts aimed at getting the two sides to adhere to their peace agreement. Later that month, heavy fighting broke out between northern and southern forces at 'Amran, north of Sanaa; the fighting signaled the disintegration of the Yemeni union.

Yemen exploded into full-scale civil war in early May. Both sides carried out missile attacks in and around Sanaa and Aden. On May 21 al-Beidh announced the secession of the South from the Republic of Yemen and the formation of a new southern state, the Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY). The DRY assembled a political structure similar to that of unified Yemen, and al-Beidh was elected president by a five-member Presidential Council. Meanwhile, Saleh dismissed a number of YSP party members from Yemen's government in an attempt to remove the influence of al-Beidh.

Fighting continued throughout June, much of it centered around the port cities of Aden and Al Mukalla. Both sides launched attacks on oil installations, and a great deal of infrastructure was damaged or destroyed. Following the failure of a Russian cease-fire agreement, Saleh's northern forces launched a final drive on Aden and Al Mukalla in early July, ultimately defeating the DRY army. By mid-July all of the former South Yemen was under Saleh's control.

After the collapse of the DRY, Saleh's government was faced with the task of rebuilding Yemen's economy and government. The infrastructure in and around Aden had sustained the most damage, from water systems to oil refineries and communications centers. In July more than 100 cases of cholera were diagnosed in Aden, due in part to water shortages in the city.

In September 1994 the Yemeni legislature approved a number of major reforms to the country's 1990 unification constitution. Saleh was formally reelected president on October 1, and he appointed Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi as his new vice president. In an attempt to revive the country's economy, Yemeni leaders made efforts to devise and implement an economic austerity program called for by several international economic agencies; this was achieved with a great deal of difficulty in the spring of 1995.

In February 1995 the governments of Yemen and Saudi Arabia agreed to negotiate a settlement to their long-standing dispute over their shared border. The agreement defused a potentially explosive situation, as Yemen and Saudi Arabia had skirmished in the region only a few months before. As of May 1996 negotiations continued but the two sides had not agreed on a formal border.

In December 1995 Eritrea, which lies across the Red Sea from Yemen, seized Hanish al Kabir (Greater Hanish Island), strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea, from Yemeni troops stationed there. At least 12 people were killed in the fighting. Both Yemen and recently independent Eritrea claim the Hanish Islands; Yemeni plans for a resort on Hanish al Kabir reportedly sparked the attack. By May 1996 the two countries had reached a truce and agreed to submit the question of sovereignty over the islands to arbitration.

Government :Before unification, North Yemen was governed by a benign authoritarian regime dominated by the military, and South Yemen functioned as a centralized socialist party-state. Politics opened up with the creation of the Republic of Yemen in 1990, and the number of freely functioning parties, lobbying groups, and communications outlets multiplied. During a 30-month transition period, the unification regime was based on equal power sharing between the General People's Congress (GPC) and the Yemeni Socialist party (YSP), the former ruling parties of North Yemen and South Yemen, respectively.

An open, hotly contested national election in April 1993 marked the end of the transition period and yielded a coalition government consisting of the GPC, the YSP, and the conservative Islamic Reform Grouping (al-Islah), with the GPC holding nearly a majority of the cabinet posts. The 1993 election was the first multiparty election on the Arabian Peninsula, and the first in which women could vote; the vast majority of Yemenis participated.

The constitution adopted in 1990, which was similar to North Yemen's 1970 constitution, provided for a 301-member elected legislature, called the Council of Deputies. In addition to its legislative tasks, the council would select a five-member Presidential Council and vote on the composition and program of the cabinet. The Presidential Council would choose from its membership a president and vice president, and also nominate the prime minister.

The members of the Council of Deputies would be selected for five-year terms, as would the president and vice president. In September 1994, at the end of the country's civil war, the Council of Deputies voted to adopt major reforms to the unification constitution. The amended constitution declares Islamic Sharia (basic law) as the basis of all legislation and describes the economy as market-based. The reforms also abolished the five-member Presidential Council, and stipulated that the presidency be decided by universal suffrage, with no one permitted to hold office for more than two terms.

Since 1990 the president has been Ali Abdullah Saleh, the former leader of North Yemen; Saleh was most recently reelected in 1994, following Yemen's short civil war. At the end of Saleh's five-year term in office in 1999, the president will be directly elected according to the terms of the amended constitution. From 1990 to May 1994, Ali Salem al-Beidh, the former top leader of South Yemen, was the vice president of unified Yemen. Following the civil war, in which al-Beidh led the losing secessionist forces, Saleh replaced him with Major-General Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Saleh also appointed a new cabinet comprised of members of the GPC and al-Islah parties to replace the three-party coalition formed in 1993 that had included the YSP.

The History of Yemen
Ancient Yemen
The Rise of Islam
Ottoman Rule
Last of the Imams
British Rule
Unified Republic
Civil War
 
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