UN council calls on Saleh to quit

IMMUNITY::Nobel Peace laureate Tawakkul Karman said the Security Council was wrong not to demand that the Yemeni president be prosecuted when he resigns


Sun, Oct 23, 2011 - Page 6

The UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution calling on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to immediately sign a deal under which he would quit.

However, Yemen’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, Tawakkul Karman, criticized the council for not opposing a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) proposal to give Saleh immunity from prosecution if he signs the deal.

“They have to discuss the ousting of Saleh and how he has to be handed over to the International Criminal Court as a war criminal,” Karman said outside the Security Council.

The resolution, unanimously agreed by the 15 members, “strongly condemns” deadly government attacks on demonstrators and backs the GCC plan under which Saleh would end his 33 years in power.

Several hundred people have been killed since protests against Saleh erupted in January.

The Security Council called on Saleh to keep a promise to immediately sign the GCC plan and for a peaceful power transition “without further delay.”

Saleh has repeatedly stalled the GCC initiative that would see him step aside 30 days after it was signed in exchange for immunity from prosecution.


Karman called for greater international pressure on Saleh, saying the resolution should have been tougher.

“This is not enough,” she told reporters.

“We feel that the resolution did not address the issue of accountability and amnesty,” she added, rejecting any suggestion of Saleh escaping prosecution.

“We reject any killing. We just want a fair trial for him. The revolution people [sic] will take Saleh in a peaceful manner. Saleh and his children will receive a fair trial,” Karman said.

Karman was backed by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“The Security Council should have more clearly distanced itself from the GCC impunity deal. By signaling that there would be no consequence for the killing of Yemenis, the immunity deal has contributed to prolonging the bloodshed,” HRW’s UN representative Philippe Bolopion said.

British Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant said the resolution includes some “tough messages” for Saleh and Yemen’s opposition.

“We have made very clear in the resolution that all those responsible for violence, for human rights abuses should be held accountable,” he said.

The Security Council went from the vote to consultations on events in Libya, including the killing of ousted Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi.


Diplomats said the death of Qaddafi and uprisings in other Arab nations could put pressure on the Yemeni leader, but there was no threat of sanctions in the resolution drawn up by Britain.

The Yemen resolution orders a UN report on Yemen within 30 days and Lyall Grant said the Security Council could quickly come back to the crisis.

The US welcomed the resolution and called for an immediate transition in Yemen.

“Today the international community sent a united and unambiguous signal to President Saleh that he must respond to the aspirations of the Yemeni people by transferring power immediately,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

“Each day that passes without a political solution plunges Yemen deeper into turmoil,” Carney said in a statement.

Saleh’s refusal to hand over power since his return from medical treatment in Saudi Arabia and growing fears about the growing influence of al-Qaeda have heightened international concern about the country.

Saleh says if he stands down, his archrivals, General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and tribal leader Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, must also withdraw from Yemeni politics. The capital is now divided between forces loyal to the three rivals.