Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

UN ‘seriously’ addressing challenges hindering Yemen peace deal

Martin Griffiths expected to brief UN Security Council on progress of Stockholm agreement

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths looks on during a meeting with members of the Houthi delegation and representatives of the Government of Yemen in Jordan in February. EPA
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths looks on during a meeting with members of the Houthi delegation and representatives of the Government of Yemen in Jordan in February. EPA

The UN envoy to Yemen has said that his office is taking “serious” steps to address the challenges that are preventing the implementation of a peace deal reached in Sweden.

Martin Griffiths helped to broker a deal between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and Houthis in Sweden last December that resulted in a ceasefire in the port of Hodeidah and a prisoner exchange.

But the agreement is yet to be fulfilled due to alleged rebel violations in addition to fighting between government forces and Houthi fighters which has continued outside the ceasefire area.

“The UN is seriously addressing any challenges that might hinder the progress of the Stockholm agreement,” Mr Griffiths said in a letter addressed to Yemen’s President Abdrabu Mansour Hadi on Sunday.

The Stockholm agreement provided for the troops’ mutual withdrawal in two phases, starting from the port of Ras Isa, Saleef and Hodeidah and concluding with the withdrawal from inside and around the city under the supervision of the UN.

The envoy stressed that the UN will continue to uphold its commitment in working with the government, in which he said is a “key player in stopping the war” and achieving a comprehensive political settlement.

Mr Griffiths is expected to brief the UN Security Council on Monday evening on the progress of the deal.

Last week, the UN official held talks with Houthi leaders in Sanaa in which he discussed the obstacles facing the implementation of the withdrawal of forces from Hodeidah.

The Red Sea port city is the entry point for most of Yemen’s humanitarian aid and commercial goods.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed to the Security Council the importance of sending a “strong message” to the Houthis to ensure their commitment towards the agreement.

Mr Guterres stressed that the UN is focusing solely on the implementation of the Stockholm agreement.

The pact is intended to clear the way for wider political negotiations, with a transitional government supported by both sides to end the war.

The development comes as Mr Hadi made a rare visit to his country on Saturday for a meeting with the Yemeni parliament.

Mr Hadi described the session, held in the southern province of Hadramaut, as "historic".

Parliament members elected Sultan Al Barakani, assistant secretary general of the People’s General Congress party – led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh – as the speaker, replacing Yahia Al Raee, who remained in the capital Sanaa, which is under the control of the Iran-backed rebels.

The session was held as the Houthis conducted elections to replace at least 35 MPs who have died since the outbreak of the war.

Updated: April 15, 2019 02:39 PM

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