x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Obama vows to freeze US assets of those who 'obstruct' Yemen

Saleh loyalists keep defying transitional president Hadi.

SANAA // The US president, Barack Obama, yesterday ordered the treasury department to freeze the US-based assets of anyone who "obstructs" the implementation of the political transition in Yemen.

The order "will allow the United States to take action against those who seek to undermine Yemen's transition and the Yemeni peoples' clear desire for change.

The president took this step because he believes that the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people, along with the urgent humanitarian and security challenges, cannot be addressed if political progress stalls," Mr Obama's press secretary, Jay Carney, said in a statement.

Yemen's transition "represents an important step forward for the Yemeni people, who deserve the opportunity to determine their future," according to the statement.

Mr Obama's order comes as military officers loyal to the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, continued to defy the decisions of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi who was elected in February as a transitional president to replace Mr Saleh.

Mr Hadi replaced about 20 generals loyal to Mr Saleh last month in an effort to clear the military of mutinous factions that could destabilise the country.

The US is concerned that any further instability would be exploited by militants.

Mr Saleh had agreed in a GCC-brokered deal in November to step down after 33 years in power in exchange for immunity from prosecution for him and members of his inner circle.

Mohammed Al Sabri, a leader in the opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties, described Mr Obama's order as the right one.

"I think this is a correct decision because the Americans have realised, even if after a year and a half of pampering Mr Saleh and his family, that their interests are at genuine risk due to the mutiny of Saleh's family against the decisions of the president," said Mr Al Sabri.

Mr Abdu Al Janadi, the spokesman for Mr Saleh's General People's Congress party, which holds 50 per cent of the cabinet seats, said US action would worsen the situation in the country.

"There is not anyone undermining the political transition. Any action by the US will not help reducing tension but will make it worse," said Mr Al Janadi.

malqadhi@thenational.ae

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