UN's Ban proposes plan to ramp up Yemen peace effort

AFP , Wednesday 25 May 2016

Ban Ki-Moon
File photo of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (Photo: Reuters)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is proposing a plan to beef up the UN mediation in Yemen to overcome deep differences in peace talks, according to a letter obtained by AFP on Wednesday.

Ban outlined his proposal in a letter to the Security Council just before UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was to report to the council's 15 members on the peace talks he is leading in Kuwait.

"While both sides have committed to reaching agreements in Kuwait, there remain deep differences between the two sides which will need to be overcome in order to achieve a successful outcome," Ban wrote.

Ban proposed expanding the staff of the UN peace mission to Yemen and moving it to Amman from New York to intensify the mediation.

The bigger UN team would provide technical expertise to the Yemeni parties on a range of issues, in particular on ways to shore up a ceasefire in force since April 10 that has led to a decrease but not a halt in attacks.

"The nationwide cessation of hostilities remains extremely fragile, and requires urgent additional support from the United Nations," wrote Ban.

An upsurge in violence could "undermine the Kuwait talks and derail the progress towards greater stability and security," he added.

Council members were to decide on Ban's proposal by Thursday.

The latest round of peace talks began in Kuwait on April 21 but have been clouded by repeated walkouts by the government delegation and there have been no breakthroughs.

Face-to-face meetings resumed on Monday for the first time in nearly a week.

The UN envoy said in a statement on Wednesday that the sides were moving "towards a general understanding that encompasses the expectations and visions of the parties."

The main sticking point in the talks has been reaching agreement on the type of government that would oversee a transition.

Houthi Shia rebels and their allies have demanded a unity government.

The government delegation insists that the legitimacy of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi must be respected.

A western diplomat told AFP in Kuwait that the UN envoy had proposed a "national salvation government" that would be "consensual and inclusive."

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