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.
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

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs