Yemen minister expresses 'sorrow' at Sanaa violence

19th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Yemen's government expressed "sorrow and condemnation" over the weekend violence that killed 26 people during anti-regime demonstrations, as six new civilian deaths were reported Monday.

"The government of Yemen expresses its sorrow and condemnation for all acts of violence and bloodshed as those (that) happened yesterday (Sunday) in Sanaa," foreign minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi told the UN Human Rights Council.

"The government will investigate and hold accountable all those who were in charge of these acts," he added.

"It is unfortunate that these events occurred at a time while some solutions for the political crisis started to appear," said the minister.

"The widespread proliferation of weapons in the hands of Yemenis unfortunately makes things more complicated in such circumstances," he added.

Yemeni security forces opened fire on anti-regime demonstrators in Sanaa on Sunday, killing at least 26 and wounding hundreds after lobbing mortar rounds at the home of a powerful dissident tribal chief.

Witnesses said snipers and security forces killed another six civilians in Sanaa on Monday.

A UN team visited Yemen from June 28 to July 6 and reported that a "wide range of human rights violations and abuses have allegedly taken place throughout the country."

The team called for an international, independent probe of the violations which have left hundreds dead and thousands injured across the country.

It also observed that "among those seeking to achieve or retain power, some have deliberately sought to collectively punish ... the civilian population by cutting off vital access to basic services such as electricity, fuel and water."

But Kurbi said: "The allegations of collective punishment by the government side against citizens are not logical nor reasonable."

"The government of Yemen shouldered the burden of sabotage acts' consequences and worked hard to repair damages inflected to public services and utilities."

The minister called on the 47-member state council to reconsider dispatching an independent probe, saying it would not square with the call to solve the crisis through dialogue.

Rather, he suggested a national commission to examine the alleged violations.

"It is also possible to establish an independent and neutral national commission formed by all political parties to investigate," he said.

"It is possible that the proposed national accord government may form this commission," he added.

He also told journalists later that Al-Qaeda had benefitted from the political crisis in Yemen.

But he noted that "government forces have inflicted great losses to Al-Qaeda operatives these last six weeks."

Demonstrations against Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh have been raging since January.

Saleh, who is recovering in Saudi Arabia from wounds received in an explosion in Sanaa in June, last week authorised Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to negotiate a power transfer with the opposition.

But the opposition has dismissed calls for dialogue before Saleh, in power since 1978, signs a Gulf-brokered deal that would see him hand power over to Hadi in return for amnesty from prosecution for himself and his family.

Kurbi told journalists that as a Yemeni citizen, Saleh "has every right to return to Sanaa."

However, he assured that Saleh is "not returning to run for elections. He would like to see change."

© 2011 AFP

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