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Yemeni protest leaders announced the formation of a shadow transitional government to run the country if the current government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh collapses or surrenders authority.
The Preparatory Committee of the Youth Peaceful Revolution Council in Yemen announced at a press conference Saturday (July 16th) in Change Square in Sanaa, that it was forming a 17-member transitional presidential council. Opposition leaders said the transitional council would assume leadership for no longer than nine months after its first meeting.
The preparatory committee will be charged with forming a transitional National Assembly to assume legislative and regulatory functions, draft a new constitution for the country, and moderate a national dialogue to find a solution to issues in southern Yemen and Saada. The assembly will consist of 501 members whose names will be announced at a later date.
The list of transitional council members included a number of Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) leaders including the president of the National Dialogue Preparatory Committee Mohamed Salem Bassandawa, member of the Supreme Council of the JMP Mohammed Abdul-Malik al-Mutawakkil, head of the Socialist Party bloc in parliament Aidarous al-Naqeeb, and vice-president of the National Dialogue Preparatory Committee Sakhr al-Wajih.
The list also included opposition figures residing outside Yemen, namely the former president of South Yemen, Ali Nasser Muhammad, and the first prime minister of united Yemen, Haidar al-Attas.
The list included one woman, Houriya Mashhour, former deputy director of the Women's National Commission.
The preparatory committee also selected Major General Abdullah Ali Elewa as Commander of the Armed Forces and Judge Fahim Abdullah Mohsen as chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, to manage the country's affairs.
Some individuals named to the council said they were not aware of it, adding they heard about it through the media. Among them is Mohsen, who told Al-Shorfa, "I am a judge, and political conflicts are not my concern."
Al-Mutawakkil, whose name was included on the transitional council list, told Al-Shorfa he learned of the initiative one hour before it was announced. He had encouraged the young activists to make it and had called on the JMP to form the council four months ago.
"It is a good initiative and should be studied and developed by all the groups in the various squares, even by the JMP," he said, adding he believes the council could apply pressure on the government and the opposition to agree on a political solution that rebuilds the country according to principles that provide for equal rights and freedoms.
Sultan al-Atawani, a JMP leader, told Al-Shorfa, "The JMP is studying the preparatory committee's Transitional Council formation initiative and needs to develop the concept until a national consensus is reached among [protesters] in the squares and the opposition, at home and abroad."
The young demonstrators in Change Square welcomed the transitional council but emphasised it is imperative that the council obtain consent from all youth groups in the squares.
Fahd al-Muneifi, a member of the Organising Committee of the Youth Revolution, told Al-Shorfa, "The formation of a transitional council by one of the blocs is a good gesture, and it is being considered. It must have the consent of all revolutionary blocs in Change Square in Sanaa and in freedom squares in all provinces as well as the support of our political partners," referring to the JMP opposition bloc.
Tariq al-Shami, the official spokesman for the ruling Congress Party, described the initiative as an "unconstitutional and illegitimate process."
"A political solution guaranteeing Yemen's emergence from its predicament can only be achieved through the constitution because Yemen is a democratic country and any change must come through the ballot box," he said.
Twelve revolutionary youth coalitions in Change Square in Sanaa announced in a joint statement Sunday their rejection of the transitional presidential council. The coalitions said the council does not represent all elements of the revolution.