Yemen’s President Rabu Mansour Hadi has issued decree No. (12) for 2013 on Sunday, March 17, forming the presidium of the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference, which starts today. The officers are listed below:

1- President Abdo Rabu Mansour Hadi as president of the conference.
2- Abdul-Kareem al-Iriani as a vice-president for the conference.
3- Yasin Saeed No’man as a vice-president for the conference.
4- Abdul-Wahab Ahmed al-Anisi as a vice-president for the conference.
5- Sultan Hizam al-Atwani as a vice-president for the conference.
6- Ahmed Bin Fareed al-Sorimah as a vice-president for the conference.
7- Saleh Ahmed Habrah as a vice-president for the conference.
8- Abdullah Salem Lamlas as the conference’s reporter.
9- Nadia Abdul-Aziz al-Sakkaf as a deputy for the reporter.

For a complete list of the 565 participants in Arabic, go here.

The term “dialogue” is ambitious, given the general disrespect held in Yemen for the UN, which is sponsoring this 6-month long exercise. It is hard to imagine how over 500 people can engage in a meaningful dialogue. Is the six months so they can each take the floor and filibuster? While a wide net has been cast, there is still major grievance from the southern secessionists, who staged a strike in Aden on Sunday. Although none of the former major political players will be physically present (including former President Salih, General Ali Mohsen and Sheikh al-Ahmar), they will certainly be represented by some of the participants. One is always hopeful that a path to national reconciliation can be forged. Yemenis did it themselves after the bitter civil war in the 1960s, but that was before decades of military rule eroded most Yemeni support for the central government. Still, talk is always better than bullets, so let the dialogue begin.