Yemen's Hadi must be restored as president: UN chief

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA, Ian Timberlake- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on Sunday for the restoration to power in Yemen of Western-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after Huthi militia seized power.
"The situation is very, very seriously deteriorating, with the Huthis taking power and making this government vacuum," Ban said, referring to the Shiite militia which dissolved the Sanaa government and parliament on Friday.

"There must be restoration of legitimacy of President Hadi," the UN chief told reporters after talks with King Salman in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The Huthi militia on Friday created a "presidential council" in a move it said was designed to fill a power vacuum and would head off the threat from Al-Qaeda, which has a strong presence in east and south Yemen.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, on Saturday described the Huthi action as a coup.
The militia overran Sanaa in September, then seized the presidential palace and key government buildings last month, prompting Hadi and Prime Minister Khalid Bahah to resign.
Yemen has been riven by instability since the Arab Spring-inspired uprising that forced strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in 2012.
"I'm concerned that all these Huthis and... former president Saleh have been undermining the transition process," said Ban, who arrived in the kingdom to pay his respects after the January 23 death of King Salman's predecessor, Abdullah.
Ban also met other officials including Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani.
"This situation in Yemen has been the major topic which we addressed," Ban said, adding that it must be dealt with through UN Security Council and GCC initiatives.
Ban said UN envoy Jamal Benomar has been "working very hard in Yemen, facilitating a way out of the current political crisis and a return to the path of the peaceful political transition".
Security Council president Liu Jieyi has said its 15 members were ready to "take further steps" if UN-brokered negotiations to resolve Yemen's political crisis were not resumed "immediately".
- 'Profoundly concerned' -
The Huthis said they would set up a national council of 551 members to replace parliament in the violence-wracked nation, a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda.
They also announced that Hadi's defence minister, General Mahmud al-Subaihi, would chair a newly formed "security commission" which will include the outgoing interior minister.
But Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours said the Huthi actions "totally undermine" international and regional efforts to help resolve Yemen's crisis, marking "a grave and unacceptable escalation".
Ban said that he and King Salman agreed "everything possible must be done to reduce terrorism, both from Yemen and from Daesh," an Arabic term to describe the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.
IS has seized parts of Syria and Iraq where it has been accused of atrocities including beheading foreign hostages and burning alive a captured Jordanian fighter pilot.
Both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are part of a United States-led coalition conducting air strikes against IS.
The jihadists, as well as the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, are also fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"I am also profoundly concerned about the appalling crimes that continue to be committed in Syria by all sides," Ban said.
He said he hopes Riyadh's plan to reopen an embassy in Baghdad, after nearly 25 years and a history of strained ties, will deepen their cooperation "including on countering terrorism".
Ban said he did not discuss specific human rights cases during his talks in the kingdom, which has faced constant global criticism over its rights record.
But he expects that under King Salman's leadership the kingdom "will also show an example in promoting human rights, particularly women and young people and marginalised groups of people and foreign migrant workers".

Monday, February 9th 2015
Ian Timberlake

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