NEW: U.S. Ambassador Susan E. Rice said Saleh's "continued equivocation" weakens his country
Resolution does not sanction embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh
Yemen has been engulfed in months of unrest
U.N. Security Council vote demands that Yemen allow peaceful protests
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday in favor of a resolution to condemn violence in Yemen, where demonstrators, government forces and rival factions have been embroiled in months of unrest.
The 15-0 vote demands that Yemen allow peaceful demonstrations to take place and to end government crackdowns on civilians.
U.S. Ambassador Susan E. Rice said the “Security Council sent a strong message to President (Ali Abdullah) Saleh that it is time to heed the legitimate calls of the Yemeni people for a peaceful and orderly transition toward a unified, stable, secure and democratic Yemen.”
“President Saleh has repeatedly pledged to sign the (Gulf Cooperation Council) initiative,” Rice said. “Today, the Security Council made clear to President Saleh that his continued equivocation is weakening his country and imperiling a peaceful and democratic future for the people of Yemen.
Friday’s resolution does not, however, sanction the embattled leader.
The proposed deal, which Rice noted, referenced a GCC-brokered accord, backed by the United States and European Union, whereby Saleh could resign from power in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Peter Wittig, German ambassador to the United Nations, said the resolution was “not ideal” but “can make a difference.”
“We would have liked to express those messages that are in that resolution even in a stronger and more unequivocal form, especially the strong call to President Saleh to step down,” he said.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Tawakkol Karman also weighed in Friday, calling the resolution “not sufficient.”
“They have to discuss about the ousting of Ali Saleh and that he has to be handed over to the authorities immediately,” says the Yemeni activist who plans to stay in the United States “until I am able to submit Ali Saleh’s case to the international tribunal.”
“But in general,” she said of the resolution, “I would say it is good.”
U.N. director at Human Rights Watch Philippe Bolopio said the group welcome’s “the long overdue condemnation of Yemeni government abuses,” but Bolopio believes “the Security Council should have more clearly distanced itself from the GCC impunity deal.”
Earlier this week, several people were killed during clashes with Yemeni security forces after anti-government protests filled the streets of the country’s capital.
Crowds had marched through downtown Sanaa, where government forces allegedly gunned down protesters.
Hundreds of security forces attempted to restrict the protesters’ movements, and tear-gas canisters could be seen flying toward the crowd, said hospital director Mohammed Qubati.
A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition on anonymity, said that Friday’s resolution, introduced by Germany and the United Kingdom, would send a strong signal of urgency for political transition.
The official said that unanimity is an indication of greater consensus on the council.
Russia and China issued a rare double veto of a resolution condemning the violence in Syria this month.
Security Council members have said a political solution in Yemen should be based on a initiative put forward by the GCC, a political and economic union of Arab states.