Friday, 14 October 2011

UN debates resolution on Yemen power transfer

UNITED NATIONS: Key members of the UN Security Council are considering a Yemen resolution that would call for an immediate cease-fire and transfer of power amid reports the security situation in the Middle Eastern nation is deteriorating rapidly.

The British-drafted resolution, obtained yesterday by The Associated Press, demands that Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down in return for immunity from any prosecution.

The resolution is being discussed by the five veto-wielding permanent council members, and earlier this week, Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow preferred a weaker presidential statement.

But Churkin told reporters that he was now beginning to look at a legally binding resolution.

France's United Nations Ambassador Gerard Araud said he was pessimistic Wednesday about council adoption of a resolution, but was more positive Thursday saying "the Russians are permanently moving into the direction of a resolution."

Supporters of the resolution are hoping to circulate the text to the entire 15-member Security Council, possibly Friday, and would like to see a vote next week.

Unlike the resolution on Syria which was vetoed by Russia and China last week, the Yemen draft makes no mention of sanctions or any other measures.

It backs the initiative by the Gulf Cooperation Council the alliance of Saudi Arabia and five other energy-rich nations which calls for an immediate cease-fire and demands that President Saleh transfer power to his vice president in return for immunity from any prosecution.

Saleh endorsed the deal several times only to balk at signing at the last minute. He was gravely wounded in an explosion at his presidential palace in June and went to Saudi Arabia for treatment. During his absence, mediators and opposition groups sought to convince him to stay away and transfer power to his deputy, but he declined and returned abruptly to Yemen late last month.

The Security Council was briefed Tuesday by the UN special adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, who told reporters afterwards that "the security situation has deteriorated very dramatically."

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