News / Middle East

Yemeni President's Term Extended, Shi'ite Muslim Leader Killed

FILE - Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi FILE - Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi
x
FILE - Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi
FILE - Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi
Reuters
— Yemen's political factions extended the president's term by a year and approved a new federal system at the end of national reconciliation talks on Tuesday, a milestone in the troubled country's transition to democracy.

Highlighting the security challenges facing Yemen, which borders major oil exporter Saudi Arabia and is home to one of al-Qaida's most active branches, unknown assailants shot dead a leader of the Yemeni Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group while he was driving to attend the final session of the talks.

Yemen has been torn by rising violence and lawlessness as the U.S.-allied country struggles to overcome political turmoil after long-serving President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down following months of mass protests against his rule in 2011.

The nation's political factions gave interim President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, whose two-year term had originally been due to end with elections in February 2014, an extra year after delays in the transition to democracy.

He will oversee a shift to a federal system intended to accommodate southern separatist demands for more autonomy. Southern separatists have been demanding to revive the state that merged with North Yemen in 1990.

The national reconciliation talks, launched in March 2013 as part of a Gulf-brokered power transfer deal, have been plagued by walk-outs by politicians.

Hadi, who will head a special committee, was also tasked with the drafting of a new constitution within three months.

He was also mandated to reshuffle the cabinet and restructure the Shura Council, the consultative upper house of parliament, to give more representation to the south and to Shi'ite Muslim rebels in the north.

Mindful of the challenges, Hadi told delegates: “I did not take over a nation, I took over a capital where gun shots are continuous day and night, where roadblocks fill the streets. I took over an empty bank that has no wages and a divided security apparatus and army.”

“The national dialog document [final communique] is the beginning of the road to build a new Yemen,” he said at the Movenpick Hotel on a hilltop on the outskirts of Sanaa where the sessions have been taking place.

Yemeni analyst Hatem Bamehrez said Hadi's task was huge.

“If the dialog took 10 months to complete, then implementation needs enough time and one year is not enough,” Bamehrez said, adding that shifting the major issues for Hadi to deal with later represented “a big danger” to the process.

Security

Marring Tuesday's talks, Ahmad Sharafeddin, a Houthi delegate at the reconciliation talks who had served as dean of the law faculty at Sanaa University, was killed when gunmen in a speeding vehicle sprayed his car with bullets in central Sanaa, officials said.

They said he died instantly and the gunmen escaped.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the assassination, but another Houthi leader, Abdulkarim al-Khiwani, accused hardline Sunni Muslim militants of carrying out the attack.

The Houthi group fought radical Sunni Salafis in northern Yemen from October until earlier this month, when a ceasefire was reached to relocate the Salafis to another city some 250 km (155 miles) away. But clashes have continued in other parts of northern Yemen with tribesmen allied to the Salafis.

More than 210 people have been killed in the fighting that  erupted in late October after the Houthis accused the Salafis of recruiting foreign militants in preparation to attack them.

The Salafis, who follow an austere brand of Sunni Islam, say the foreigners are students of Islamic theology.

Tuesday's attack was the latest in a string of killings against high-profile Yemenis and foreigners. Last week an Iranian diplomat was killed in Sanaa when he resisted gunmen who were trying to kidnap him.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid