News / Middle East

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

FILE - Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour HadiFILE - 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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More