UN set to approve new Yemen envoy on Monday

Violence has been spreading across the country since last year when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa.

FILE: A flag of the United Nations floats at their Geneva’s offices during the third day of face-to-face peace talks in Geneva on 27 January 2014. Picture: AFP.

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations Security Council appears set to approve on Monday the appointment of Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as the new special envoy to Yemen, diplomats said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon notified the 15-member council in a letter on Thursday of his intention to appoint Ould Cheikh Ahmed to replace Jamal Benomar, a Moroccan diplomat who brokered a 2011 transition aimed at quelling political turmoil.

If there are no objections the appointment will be approved on Monday morning, according to a letter sent to council members by Jordanian UN Ambassador Dina Kawar, president of the Security Council for April.

Ban told the Security Council that the new "Special Envoy for Yemen will intensify my good offices role in order to enable a resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people."

Violence has been spreading across the Arabian Peninsula country since last year when the Houthis seized the capital Sanaa and effectively removed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has since fled to Saudi Arabia.

In recent months Benomar's peace plan unravelled, culminating in an ongoing Saudi-led bombing campaign against Houthi rebels allied to Iran. Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it would end air strikes against the Houthis but resumed operations on Wednesday.

"My Special Envoy will work closely with the members of the Security Council, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and other partners," Ban wrote in his letter to the council, which was seen by Reuters.

In January last year Ould Cheikh Ahmed was appointed deputy UN special envoy for Libya and then in December was charged with heading the United Nations Ebola response mission, UNMEER.

Ould Cheikh Ahmed has almost three decades of development and aid experience with the United Nations. More recently, he was UN resident humanitarian and development coordinator in Syria between 2008 and 2012, and in Yemen from 2012 to 2014.