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U.N. condemns Yemeni violence, backs effort to remove leader

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday to condemn Yemen's bloody crackdown on peaceful protesters and endorsed a regional political initiative aimed at securing President Ali Abdullah Saleh's commitment to leave office.

The passage of the resolution marks the first time the 15-nation council has weighed in on the political crisis, which has played out over more than nine months. It placed the United Nations squarely behind a proposal by the Gulf Cooperation Council that would grant immunity to Saleh and his inner circle if they agree to step aside.

The amnesty provision was sharply criticized by Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman, who won the Nobel Peace Prize this month. She told reporters outside the council after the vote that she would press for Saleh to be tried by the International Criminal Court.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights also opposed an amnesty for serious crimes.

British and German officials defended Friday's resolution, noting that while it endorsed the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, it also included a provision stressing "that all those responsible for violence, human rights violations and abuses should be held accountable."

The United States, which has cooperated closely with Saleh on counterterrorism efforts, has been pressing him to cede power for several months. U.S. support for the resolution reflects growing frustration with Saleh's refusal to step down despite repeated pledges he would do so.

Protests in Syria

Inspired by the demise of Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, thousands of antigovernment protesters took to the streets of Syria on Friday to demand the ouster of President Bashar Assad amid tight security. Syrian security forces opened fire on the protesters, killing at 24 people, including 19 in Homs, according to the Local Coordinating Committees, an anti-Assad coalition.

Los Angeles Times

U.N. condemns Yemeni violence, backs effort to remove leader 10/21/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 21, 2011 10:27pm]
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