Yemenis impeding transition may face sanctions: UN

Report
from Agence France-Presse
Published on 19 Dec 2012

12/19/2012 16:08 GMT

SANAA, Dec 19, 2012 (AFP) - The UN envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, has warned that the world body could impose sanctions on those impeding the political transition in the impoverished country, state news agency Saba reported.

There was a "possibility (the United Nations would) impose individual or group sanctions against whoever creates an obstacle or attempts to delay the track of the (political) settlement," a Saba report late on Tuesday quoted Benomar as saying.

A UN committee could be formed for this purpose or sanctions could be levied directly "when needed," said Benomar during a meeting with President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi who is leading Yemen for a two-year interim period ending in February 2014.

A UN-brokered power transition deal saw former president Ali Abdullah Saleh eased out of office this year after three decades in power following protests, calls for a national dialogue on a new constitution and an electoral law.

The national dialogue conference, originally scheduled for mid-November, was delayed after factions in the Southern Movement, which has campaigned for autonomy or secession for the formerly independent south, refused to join the talks.

But on Wednesday, a faction of the coalition, the National Council for the People of the South, said it will take part.

"We are going to participate in the dialogue because it is a civilised act, and at the same time, a must to defend our people" in the south, said Mohammed Ali Ahmed, the deputy head of the group, at a news conference in Aden.

By joining the dialogue, his group aims to defend the rights of the southerners to "regain their state" in the south, he said.

After North and South Yemen unified, the south broke away in 1994, sparking a short-lived civil war that ended with the region being overrun by northern troops.

The transition deal also stipulates restructuring the army and integrating military and security forces under a single command, a task that remains difficult with Saleh's sons and relatives still in top security posts.

The United Nations made an urgent call earlier this month for Yemeni political parties to begin the dialogue, warning that the transition was under threat.

Benomar, who played a key role in convincing Yemeni counterparts to sign the power transfer deal, had said that "the transition is threatened by those who have still not understood that change must now occur."

He had accused opponents of the dialogue of being "keen to impede this transition and to profit from instability."

Benomar met Southern Movement leaders in Cairo in October to urge them to join the national dialogue, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon visited Sanaa last month and promised technical and logistical help.

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