February 21, 2014 / 9:46 PM / 6 years ago

U.N. Security Council considering targeted sanctions in Yemen

A man holds a poster of Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh outside al-Saleh mosque after weekly Friday prayers in Sanaa May 17, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council is considering a draft resolution to impose travel bans and asset freezes on people in Yemen who obstruct or undermine the country’s political transition and those who commit human rights violations.

Yemen, a U.S. ally, with a population of 25 million, is trying to end nearly three years of political unrest, which began with mass protests against Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president for 33 years who stepped down in 2012.

Britain circulated a draft resolution among the 15 council members on Friday that would establish a sanctions committee for one year to blacklist individuals and entities in Yemen. The draft does not initially name anyone to be subjected to sanctions.

The Security Council has previously expressed concern over reports of interference by Saleh and former Vice President Ali Salim Al-Beidh. In November, Jamal Benomar, special U.N. adviser on Yemen, accused members of Saleh’s circle of obstructing reconciliation talks aimed at completing a power transfer deal that eased Saleh out of office.

The draft recognizes “that the transition process requires turning the page from the presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh” and stresses that the best solution is a “peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people.”

Several diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said last month that is appeared all council members were ready to begin work on setting up a new U.N. sanctions regime for Yemen.

“It’s clear that a signal must be given by the Security Council that there is no walking back from the achievements of the national dialogue in Yemen and that the Security Council continues to support this positive transition and change,” Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said earlier this month.

Interim President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has been facing other challenges in trying to restore stability to Yemen, which shares a long and porous border with top world oil exporter Saudi Arabia.

Yemen is also trying to deal with demands by southern separatists for independence and to quell rebels from the Shi’ite Muslim Houthi movement, which has been on an offensive to extend its control over the north.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mohammad Zargham

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