UN debates resolution on power transfer in Yemen

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Key members of the UN Security Council are considering a new Yemen resolution that would call for an immediate ceasefire in the troubled country and transfer of power amid reports the security situation is deteriorating.

The British-drafted resolution demands that President Ali Abdullah Saleh, pictured, step down in return for immunity from any prosecution. The resolution is being discussed by the five veto-wielding permanent council members.

This week, Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said Moscow preferred a weaker statement, but he has since told reporters that he was beginning to look at a legally binding resolution. Supporters of the resolution were hoping to circulate the text to the entire 15-member Security Council as early as yesterday, and would like to see a vote next week.

Unlike the resolution on Syria vetoed by Russia and China last week, the Yemen draft makes no mention of sanctions or any other measures.It backs the initiative by the Gulf Co-operation Council – the alliance of Saudi Arabia and five other energy-rich nations – which calls for an immediate ceasefire and demands that President Saleh transfer power to his vice-president in return for immunity from any prosecution.

Mr Saleh endorsed the deal several times only to balk at signing at the last minute. He was wounded in an explosion in June and went to Saudi Arabia for treatment. During his absence, opposition groups sought to convince him to stay away and transfer power to his deputy, but he declined and returned late last month.