The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh and two allied rebel commanders for threatening the peace and stability of the country and obstructing the political process.
Lithuanian UN Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite, chair of the council’s Yemen sanctions committee, said on Friday all 15 members had agreed to blacklist Saleh and Houthi rebel military leaders Abd al-Khaliq al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim.
The three men are now subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze.
The UN Security Council in February authorised sanctions against anyone in Yemen who obstructs the country’s political transition or commits human rights violations, but stopped short of blacklisting any specific individuals.
The United States submitted a formal request to the Yemen sanctions committee a week ago for Saleh and the Houthi leaders, whom Washington accuses of destabilising the country, to be the first people designated.
In a letter to the committee, Washington said Saleh “was behind the attempts to cause chaos throughout Yemen” by using the Houthi group to “not only delegitimise the central government, but also create enough instability to stage a coup.”
The US referred to a panel of experts report that said Saleh had resorted to al-Qaeda operatives to carry out assassinations and attacks in a bid to weaken his successor President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
The letter also said that rebel commander Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim had plotted in June to stage a coup against Hadi in meetings with tribal leaders, security commanders and other figures loyal to Saleh.
Saleh has denied seeking to destabilise Yemen and his party warned after a meeting on Thursday that any sanctions on the former president or “even waving such a threat would have negative consequences on the political process.”
The UN decision came after thousands of Saleh and Houthi supporters filled the streets of Sanaa to protest the move to punish the ex-leader, accused of being the main backer of the rebels.
Also on Friday, Yemen announced a new 36-member government intended to pull the country out of political crisis, the state news agency Saba said.
Formation of the new cabinet under a peace deal agreed on September 21, the day Shia Houthi rebels seized the capital, had been delayed because of tensions between the rebels and their political rivals.