UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council Friday praised plans for a national dialogue in Yemen and warned former president Ali Abdullah Saleh he could face sanctions for undermining the political transition.
Yemen's interim President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi last week set March 18 as the date for the long-awaited talks to push forward the transition process, after violent protests in 2011 and another year of political uncertainty.
The 15-member Council welcomed Hadi's announcement and "commends those that have engaged constructively in the preparatory stages of the process," it said in a statement.
But it expressed concern about "reports of money and weapons being brought into Yemen from outside for the purpose of undermining the transition," and warned Saleh and others not to meddle in the process.
It also expressed "concern over reports of interference in the transition by individuals in Yemen representing the former regime" and the former opposition including Saleh and former vice president Ali Salem al-Beidh.
The Council reiterated its "readiness to consider further measures, including under Article 41 of the UN Charter, if actions aimed at undermining the Government of National Unity and the political transition continue."
Yemen was rocked in 2011 by an uprising that left the already impoverished country's economy in tatters and weakened the government's control over several areas, especially across the south and east.
Hadi was elected in February 2012 as part of a Gulf-brokered exit deal that eased former president Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office after 33 years in power, and ended a year of violent protests against his regime.
The national dialogue, which was originally planned for November, aims to draft a new constitution and an electoral law ahead of elections in 2014.
A top UN Security Council team visited Sanaa late January to demonstrate the UN's support to Yemen's political transition.