Houthis release one Yemeni minister, keep hold of others

Houthis release one Yemeni minister, keep hold of others
Houthi rebels have released the minister for technical education minister and four activists, but has kept hold of the minister of defence and the president's brother.
2 min read
15 January, 2016
UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed announced Abdul Razak Ashwal's release [Anadolu]
Houthi rebels have released a government minister and four activists as a confidence-building measure to bolster peace talks, the UN envoy to Yemen announced on Thursday.

Technical Education Minister Abdul Razak Ashwal was released, alongside political and media activists, Ould Cheikh Ahmed told reporters.

The UN envoy also said that he received assurances from the Houthis about the well-being of detained Defence Minister General Mahmoud al-Subaihi and intelligence official Naser Mansour Hadi, President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi's brother.

There was a degree of media confusion surrounding Ould Cheikh Ahmed's announcement, prompting some newspapers to report that Subaihi and Hadi would also be imminently released.

Yemeni government spokesman Rajeh Badi told The New Arab that the Houthis had not allowed the UN envoy to meet the political detainees, including General Subaihi.
Houthis did not allow the UN envoy to meet the political detainees
- Yemeni government spokesman

Badi pointed out that the Houthis had been holding thousands of political detainees in their prisons for months, preventing international organisations or their families from visiting them or communicating with them over the phone.

A Saudi-led coalition has been supporting Yemeni forces since March against Iran-backed Houthi rebels and their allies, who seized territory from the internationally recognised government.

More than 5,800 people have been killed, more than half of them civilians, according to UN figures.

Yemen's government sat down with the rebels and their allies in Switzerland last month for six days of talks that ended with no major breakthrough.

A temporary truce agreed between the warring sides during the talks was not extended and widely violated.

The next round of peace talks was postponed, and officials are still trying to reschedule.