Yemen Democracy Opponents Could Face Sanctions

A proposed U.N. Security Council resolution that circulated Monday supports efforts by Yemen's president to advance the country's transition to democracy and threatens non-military sanctions against those trying to undermine the country's national unity government.

Yemenis chant slogans and hold banners during a demonstration against the government, in Sanaa, Yemen, on Feb. 3. Thousands of opponents of Yemen's government and its supporters are demonstrating in the capital and other cities a day after the president pledged not to seek another term in office.

A proposed U.N. Security Council resolution that circulated Monday supports efforts by Yemen's president to advance the country's transition to democracy and threatens non-military sanctions against those trying to undermine the country's national unity government.

Diplomats said the five veto-wielding council members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — agreed on the text and circulated the draft to the 10 non-permanent members. Experts from the 15 council nations are expected to discuss the text Wednesday, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the draft has not been made public.

Last week, the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, told the council that despite President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi's "strong leadership," the country's transition is taking place "against a backdrop of serious security concerns, an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and many unresolved conflicts." Benomar also said al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula "continues to pose a major threat."

Hadi was sworn in on Feb. 25 to replace longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh, following an uncontested election aimed at ending more than a year of political turmoil.

The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, condemns "all terrorist and other attacks against civilians, oil, gas and electricity infrastructure and against the legitimate authorities."

It demands "the cessation of all actions aimed at undermining the government of national unity and the political transition." It singles out continued attacks on oil, gas and electricity infrastructure, interference with decisions relating to the restructuring of the armed and security forces, and obstruction of military and civilian appointments.

The draft expresses the Security Council's "readiness to consider further measures ... if such actions continue," including under Article 41 of the U.N. Charter which authorizes non-military sanctions such as freezing financial assets or travel bans.

The country's transition — which envisions the completion of a constitution in late 2013 enabling general elections to take place in February 2014 — is proving to be bumpy. Hadi is trying to restructure powerful security forces packed with Saleh loyalists, launch a national dialogue that includes the southern secessionist movement, and appease a restless religious minority in the north as well as disparate opposition groups in the heartland.

The draft resolution expresses "grave concern at the security situation and continuing terrorist attacks, including by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula."

It condemns the May 21 terrorist bombing of a military parade that killed 96 soldiers in the capital.

The draft says the transition should focus on holding "an all-inclusive National Dialogue Conference," restructuring the security and armed forces, improving justice, and constitutional and electoral reforms and the holding of general elections by February 2014.

The National Dialogue must be transparent and include youth and women's groups and calls on all sectors of Yemeni society "to participate actively and constructively in this process," the draft said.

It also stresses the need for alleged human rights abuses to be investigated and prosecuted and "reminds the Yemeni government and other actors of the need to release immediately those protesters unlawfully detained during the crisis."