UN chief plans to appoint Mauritanian diplomat as Yemen envoy
UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday informed the Security Council that he plans to appoint Mauritanian diplomat Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed as his new envoy to lead peace efforts in Yemen.
Ban said in a letter that Cheikh Ahmed would "build on the achievements" of Jamal Benomar, who resigned last week after losing support from Gulf countries for his mediation efforts.
The appointment becomes official on Monday if no objections are raised by the 15-member council.
The choice of a new UN peace envoy took on added urgency after Saudi Arabia on Tuesday declared a halt to the month-long coalition air campaign on Yemen to allow a return to political negotiations.
Cheikh Ahmed is taking over the Yemen peace process after serving for four months as the head of the UN Ebola mission in Ghana.
He brings hands-on experience in the poor Arab country, having worked as the UN humanitarian coordinator in Yemen from 2012 to 2014.
Ban told the council that the Mauritanian diplomat will "intensify my good offices role in order to enable a resumption of a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process."
Cheikh Ahmed recently served as the deputy head of the UN mission in Libya, and as UN coordinator in Syria from 2008 to 2012.
Ban met with Gulf envoys on Monday and informed them that he planned to appoint Cheikh Ahmed and was awaiting their response to the choice.
On Wednesday, the UN chief called for "an end in fighting as soon as possible" as efforts for a return to political talks gathered pace.
Peace talks broke down last month after Shiite Huthi rebels pushed their offensive, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee into exile in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes on March 26 to try to restore Hadi's legitimacy, but there has been growing international alarm over the growing civilian toll.
The United Nations has raised concern that the Yemen war could turn into a broader regional conflict, drawing in Iran, which backs the Huthis, against Saudi Arabia, which is supporting Hadi.