June 12, 2012
* U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts Yemen resolution
* Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula said to be most active
* Yemen Nobel Peace Prize winner says time for democracy
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, June 12 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council threatened on Tuesday to impose sanctions on an al Qaeda faction and others who disrupt Yemen's transition to democracy after the end of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year rule.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-nation body demanded "the cessation of all actions aimed at undermining the Government of National Unity and the political transition."
If such actions continue, it "expresses its readiness to consider further measures" under Article 41 of the U.N. charter, which allows the council to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions on countries and people ignoring its decisions.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which operates in Yemen, is believed to be the most active branch of the global network and has plotted a number of botched attempts against U.S. targets.
Protests against Saleh and fighting among Yemeni factions allowed al Qaeda's regional wing to seize parts of south Yemen and Shi'ite Muslim Houthi rebels to carve out their own domain in the north.
A split in the military in Yemen has also led to fighting among rival units and threatened to tip into civil war in one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. Saleh's son Ahmed and nephew Yahya remain in charge of important military units.
"It makes clear that any spoilers, those who are trying to disrupt the transition, disrupt the national dialogue, disrupt the national unity government, will be held accountable," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters.
"The council expresses itself ready to adopt measures under Article 41, which includes various sanctions measures, for all those who are trying to spoil the process," he said.
Saleh was replaced in February when Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was elected under the terms of an agreement crafted by his Gulf neighbors, with U.S. and U.N. backing, that envisions elections in 2014. The military is to be restructured in the meantime.
"The Yemeni people must be able to pursue a more secure, democratic, and prosperous future without illegitimate interference or terrorism," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in a statement.
"The Council made clear its strong condemnation of such conduct and willingness to consider further actions to deter those who threaten Yemen's political process," she said.
Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, spoke outside the U.N. Security Council after the resolution was adopted, and called on the world body to name those who were spoiling Yemen's bid for democracy.
She accused relatives and allies of Saleh of trying to destabilize the country.
"It sends a clear message to those people who deny or who are trying to damage the transitional period in Yemen," she said. "The international community (gave) them a clear message: 'your time is over and let Yemeni people ... build their country to be a democracy and to be a great and strong country.'"