Yemen government accepts peace deal with Houthis

Yemen government accepts peace deal with Houthis
The Yemeni government has accepted a UN-brokered peace deal that aims at resolving an ongoing conflict in the country, but the rebels are yet to respond.
3 min read
31 July, 2016
The Houthi delegation has till 7 August to accept the peace deal [Getty]

The Yemeni government said it has accepted a UN-proposed peace agreement after more than two months of negotiations with Houthi rebels.

There has been no word yet from anti-government forces who hold the country's capital Sanaa.

The unsuspected announcement came following an alleged high-level meeting in Riyadh that was chaired by Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and calls for the Houthis to respond to the offer by 7 August.

"The meeting approved the draft agreement presented by the United Nations calling for an end to the armed conflict and the withdrawal (of rebels) from Sanaa... and the cities of Taez and Al-Hudaydah," a statement said, according to the Saba news agency.

A letter to confirm the government's approval of the "Kuwait Agreement" was sent by Yemen's Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi who added a deadline was given to the rebels to accept the deal by 7 August.

In a series of tweets posted after the announcement, al-Mikhlafi said the leadership authorised the delegation attending the Kuwait talks to sign the deal, which has received strong international and regional backing.

There has been no official reaction from the rebels, however comments by Houthi spokesman, Mohammed Abdulsalam posted on Twitter before the announcement said the group rejected "half solutions" and insisted on comprehensive and complete resolutions to the conflict.

Last week, Yemen's government said the peace talks held since April had ended without agreement after Houthi rebels and their allies formed a 10-member "supreme council" to run the war-torn nation.

A deadline was given to the rebels to accept the deal by 7 August.

However, the signed deal abolishes the controversial council and stipulates all decisions made by the rebels since the September 2014 takeover of Sanaa must be scrapped, al-Mikhlafi said.

It also suggests the freeing of all prisoners of war - as specified by the UN Security Council resolution 2216 - the agreement said.

A source close to the Yemeni government told The New Arab that a fresh round of political dialogue would start between different factions 45 days after rebels withdraw from occupying cities including Sanaa, Taiz and Hodeida.

The move includes the formation of a military commission as decreed by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi which will oversee the withdrawals and retrieve weapons surrendered by the rebels, the source said.

On Saturday, Kuwait said the peace talks would be extended for one week in an attempt to provide a final push to resolve the conflict after months of negotiations.

United Nations envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed held talks with both delegations on Saturday and proposed a framework for a comprehensive settlement.

"I met today with both delegations (and) suggested a one-week extension to the talks," Ould Cheikh Ahmed wrote on Twitter.

More than 6,400 people have been killed in the Arabian Peninsula state since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March last year in support of Hadi's government.

Another 2.8 million people have been displaced and more than 80 percent of the population urgently needs humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.