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UN warns Yemen ‘opportunists’ against delay

November 28, 2013

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday warned partisans of Yemen’s former president and other “opportunists” not to boycott the drafting of a constitution or delay preparations for national elections.

After briefing the council, U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar told reporters that members of the regime of longtime leader Ali Abdullah Saleh were spreading false stories that the current president’s term must end in February at the expiration of a planned two-year transition period, in hope that the government will revert to them.

Benomar said President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi would stay on until a new president is inaugurated — not step down on an arbitrary timetable while his opponents try to undermine the political process.

“Some elements of the former regime believe they can turn back the clock,” Benomar said. But he said they “cannot both enjoy immunity and continue to obstruct the transition, undermine the transition.”

The Security Council issued a statement expressing its “concern over continuing reports of interference by those intent on disrupting, delaying or derailing the transition process and undermining the Yemeni government.”

Benomar denied a report that delegates from southern Yemen, long oppressed by Saleh’s regime, had walked out of talks. He said some had left but they had not quit en masse, and some who were continuing to participate in the dialogue would hold a news conference on Thursday.

Outside U.N. headquarters, a group of southern Yemeni protesters demanded the region’s secession from Yemen.

Hadi took over from Saleh in February 2012 after a year of protests demanding Saleh’s ouster. Hadi’s inauguration ended 34 years of one-man rule under Saleh, a polarizing figure who divided his opponents for decades before the protests shook his hold on power.

Hadi, who was Saleh’s vice president, has been supported by the international community and regional powers to transition Yemen to a more democratic rule. He faces the challenge of restructuring a security sector studded with Saleh loyalists and family members.

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