U.N. Council Calls For Power Transfer in Yemen

Posted October 21st, 2011 at 5:45 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The United Nations Security Council has condemned the Yemeni government for its crackdown on dissent and urged President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

The resolution, unanimously passed Friday by the council's 15 members, is the body's first resolution on Yemen since widespread anti-government protests began there in the spring.

The measure calls Yemen's use of force against protestors excessive and says “those responsible for violence, human rights violations and abuses should be held accountable.”

The vote came two days after Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition activist Tawakkul Karman met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York to push for a resolution.

On Friday, Karman welcomed the measure but said it didn't go far enough. She said the Yemeni people want to see Mr. Saleh tried in the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

The U.N. resolution instead reaffirms support for a Gulf Cooperation Council initiative that calls for Mr. Saleh to transfer power to a deputy in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Mr. Saleh has agreed to the plan several times, but each time, he has backed away without signing the deal.

In Washington, the White House said the resolution is “a united and unambiguous signal” sent by the international community to Mr. Saleh that he “must respond to the aspirations of the Yemeni people by transferring power immediately.”

For the past ten months, opposition activists have been demanding an end to Mr. Saleh's 33-year autocratic rule. Dozens of people have died in protest-related unrest over the past few days.

The Yemeni government has also been plagued by violence linked to al-Qaida militants.