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Yemen ups security ahead of UN visit

The traditional right to bear arms and the circulation of motorcycles have been suspended

Gulf News

Sana’a: The authorities in Yemen boosted security in the capital on Saturday a day before a visit by a UN Security Council delegation that is expected to focus on the impoverished country’s political transition.

An AFP journalist said the army and security forces put up new checkpoints around and inside Sana’a, where the right to bear arms has also been suspended temporarily.

An interior ministry statement said that from Saturday evening to Monday morning the traditional right to bear arms, as well as “the circulation of motorcycles” — which rebels often use in attacks — have been suspended.

The tightened security measures came ahead of the visit of a UN delegation due on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al Qurbi said the UN team will meet President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the national unity government formed after strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to cede power following a year-long uprising in 2011.

Abdul Latif Al Zayani, head of the Gulf Cooperation Council that brokered the accord that saw Saleh transfer power, arrived in Sana’a on Saturday to take part in Sunday’s talks, the official Saba news agency reported.

The visit comes as Sana’a struggles to organise a national dialogue conference on a new constitution and an electoral law as per the deal which saw Saleh step aside after three decades in power.

The conference, originally scheduled for mid-November, has been repeatedly delayed because some factions of the Southern Movement, which has campaigned for autonomy or secession for the formerly independent south, have refused to join the talks.

After North and South Yemen unified, the south broke away in 1994, sparking a short-lived civil war that ended with the region being overrun by northern troops.

The transition deal also stipulates restructuring the army and integrating military and security forces under a single command, a task that remains difficult with Saleh’s sons and relatives still in top security posts.

The United Nations made an urgent call in December for Yemeni political parties to begin the dialogue, warning that the transition was under threat.