Yemen government accepts UN peace deal

Yemen government accepts UN peace deal

KUWAIT CITY – Agence France-Presse
Yemen government accepts UN peace deal

Supporters of the Houthi movement take part in a demonstration in Sanaa, Yemen July 28, 2016. REUTERS photo

The Yemeni government said on July 30 it has accepted a U.N.-proposed peace agreement to end more than a year of armed conflict, but there has been no word from the rebels.

The announcement by the Saudi-backed government came after a high-level meeting in Riyadh chaired by Yemen’s President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

“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,” said a statement, cited by the Saba news agency.

Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, who is leading negotiating team in Kuwait City, said he has sent a letter to the U.N. special envoy informing him the government backed the “Kuwait Agreement.”

One pre-condition, however, is that the Iran-backed Huthis and forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh sign the deal by Aug. 7, Mikhlafi wrote on Twitter.

He said the Yemeni leadership has authorized the delegation to sign the deal, which has received strong international and regional backing.

There has been no official reaction from the rebels.

Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam, however, said on Twitter before the government announcement that the rebels insist on a comprehensive and complete solution, and rejected what he called “half solutions.”

Under the agreement, all decisions made by the rebels since they occupied the capital in September 2014 will be scrapped, Mikhlafi said.

The deal also abolishes the controversial supreme political council set up jointly by the Huthis and the General People’s Congress of former president Saleh to run the country, he said.

A political dialogue between various Yemeni factions will start 45 days after the rebels withdraw and hand over heavy weapons to a military committee to be formed by President Hadi.

Prisoners of war will also be freed, as specified by the U.N. Security Council resolution 2216, the agreement said.

The talks in Kuwait, which began on April 21, have so far made no major breakthrough.

U.N. special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on July 30 managed to extend discussions for a week after the government delegation said it was leaving, and submitted the peace deal draft to both sides.

The government approval also came hours after seven Saudi troops were killed in border clashes with Yemeni rebels.

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 U.N. figures.