UN Security Council to Vote Urging Yemen Power Transfer

Posted October 19th, 2011 at 9:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Supporters of a United Nations resolution calling for an immediate end to violence and transfer of power in Yemen have circulated a draft measure to Security Council members and are hoping for a vote by early next week.

Diplomats said Wednesday the five veto-wielding council members had reached agreement on major elements in the British-drafted plan.

The resolution reaffirms support for a Gulf Cooperation Council initiative that calls on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to immediately sign a deal that would grant him immunity from prosecution if he hands power to his deputy. It also underlines the need for an independent investigation into alleged human rights abuses “with a view to avoiding impunity.”

Mr. Saleh said Wednesday he will sign the GCC accord to end his 33 years in power only if he receives a guaranteed timetable to implement the plan from Gulf states, European nations and the U.S. He said he is under international pressure to sign the deal.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner rejected Mr. Saleh's call for international guarantees on a timetable, calling them unnecessary. He urged the Yemeni leader to sign the GCC agreement “without further delay.”

The proposal calls for Mr. Saleh to hand power to his vice president within 30 days of signing in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his aides. The deputy and an opposition-led national unity government then would prepare for a presidential election to be held 60 days after Mr. Saleh's departure.

Mr. Saleh has refused to sign the document despite making several pledges to do so this year. He has vowed not to hand power to long-time rivals from opposition parties whom he accuses of seeking to “destroy the country.”

Also Wednesday, Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition activist Tawakkul Karman met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York as part of her campaign to force Mr. Saleh to stand down. Karman has urged the world body to reject any granting of legal immunity to the Yemeni leader and his inner circle.

In Yemen Wednesday, medics and witnesses said an assailant threw a grenade into a market in the southern province of Lahij, killing two people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the town of Habilayn. At least 11 people were wounded.

Yemen has been plagued by months of violence connected to an opposition uprising against President Saleh, and an anti-government insurgency by Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida.