Last updated: 17 September, 2013

UN envoy urges Yemenis to resolve differences

The UN envoy to Yemen urged all parties in the country Tuesday to resolve “outstanding issues” delaying the successful completion of a national dialogue aimed at establishing a new political order.

“There are outstanding issues that require intensified efforts to reach an agreement” among participants at the national reconciliation talks, Jamal Benomar told reporters in Sanaa.

“I hope a specific date would be set for the end of the dialogue,” said Benomar, who must present report to the UN Security Council on September 27 on the status of Yemen’s political transition, which he had played a major role in achieving.

The dialogue aims to draw up a new constitution and prepare for elections in February. It had been scheduled to end on Wednesday but was extended by a month over discussions on the shape of a future federal state in which a once briefly independent south wants autonomy.

A 16-member committee handling the north-south issue had drafted an agreement drawing lines for a federal state, but signing was delayed amid differences over the just what that state would look like.

Southern delegates have been demanding a federal state consisting of north and south Yemen, while northerners are proposing more than two regions.

Benomar denied allegations by sources close to the talks that the deal was postponed after ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s two representatives walked out of the committee, refusing to sign the agreed document.

Long-serving Saleh, who was forced to step down in 2012 following a year of nationwide demonstrations, is accused of seeking to impede the dialogue, stipulated by a UN-backed plan that saw him out of office.

Saleh’s General People’s Congress criticised on its website “violations” taking place in the national dialogue, in reference to the north-south panel, and rejected any bid to “harm the unity of the homeland.”

Yemen is the only Arab Spring state in which an uprising resulted in a negotiated solution.