News / Middle East

    UN Yemen Envoy: Former President's Camp Undermining Talks

    Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen, briefs the Security Council in New York, Sep. 27, 2013.
    Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen, briefs the Security Council in New York, Sep. 27, 2013.
    Reuters
    The U.N. envoy to Yemen has accused members of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh's government of obstructing reconciliation talks aimed at completing a power transfer deal, and called for international support for the current administration.
        
    A Saleh aide denied his camp was undermining the talks and said that the United Nations envoy, Jamal Benomar, had become a burden on the transition process.
        
    The Conference of National Reconciliation, launched in March as part of a 2011 Gulf-brokered power transfer deal that eased long-serving Saleh out of office, has been struggling with demands by separatists from what was South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen in 1990.
        
    A group of separatists led by Mohammed Ali Ahmed, a former interior minister, quit the talks on Wednesday, dimming prospects that the conference might deliver a new constitution in time for elections originally expected to be held in February.
        
    U.N. envoy Benomar, who briefed the U.N. Security Council on the situation on Wednesday, has said interim President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, elected for a two-year period in 2012, should stay on longer if the new constitution is not ready by then.
        
    He said a "well-funded, relentless and malicious media campaign" was undermining the talks by pushing the view that Hadi must either seek a new mandate or leave office in February.
        
    "Some elements of the former regime believe they can turn back the clock," Benomar said in a statement issued after briefing the Security Council. The statement was received by Reuters by email on Thursday.
        
    Benomar said attempts to obstruct the talks were a "persistent source of instability."


    Some people close to Saleh have hinted that he may seek to return to power in a future election.
        
    Saleh's secretary, Ahmed al-Sufi, said the former president's party objected to Benomar's comments.
        
    "The General People's Congress rejects the use of terms like 'symbols of the old regime', because all those working in the current political landscape ... are from the old regime," Sufi told Reuters.
        
    More time needed
        
    Instability in Yemen, home to one of the deadliest branches of al-Qaida and which shares a long border with the world's top oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, is an international concern.
        
    Apart from southern secessionist demands, Yemen is also grappling with a rebellion in the north, which flared last month into sectarian clashes between Sunni Salafis and Shi'ite Houthi rebels in which more than 100 people have died.
        
    Benomar, who helped negotiate the 2011 power transfer deal, said that while Hadi was elected for a two-year interim period, his mandate was to deliver a set of democratic reforms and that more time was needed.
        
    "Yemen is trying to achieve a deep, democratic transformation in months - a process that took other countries years," Benomar said.
        
    "Accomplishing the substantive tasks outlined in the Transition Agreement ... obviously take precedence over rigid adherence to an indicative timeline."
        
    Benomar also said the dialogue had begun to uncover the extent of discrimination suffered by people of south Yemen after the 1994 civil war, in which Saleh's forces crushed rebels seeking to break away from the union forged four years earlier.
        
    Hadi's government has formally apologized over the 1994 civil war and agreed to return sacked civil servants and military officers to their old jobs. Yemen has also set up a fund to compensate those who have been sacked.
        
    Benomar said a fund, launched recently with $350 million in contributions made by the Gulf Arab state of Qatar was "a timely step" in efforts to address southern grievances.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora