x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Yemen declares truce with Houthi rebels

Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, announces a truce with the Shiite Houthi rebels, ending six years of sporadic war.

SANA'A // Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, announced a truce last night with the Shiite Houthi rebels, ending six years of sporadic war that drew in Saudi Arabia. Mr Saleh's order for an end to military operations came after the rebels accepted six government conditions. The authorities agreed that the Houthis should be represented on the committees that will oversee the implementation of a peace agreement.

In turn, the Houthis agreed to open up roads in the north, where they are based, according to Ali Saleh Qarsha, the chief mediator in the conflict. The government's conditions included the Houthis' withdrawal from official buildings and abandoning military posts in the mountains, reopening roads, returning weapons seized from security services, freeing all military and civilian prisoners, including Saudis, respecting the law and the constitution, and pledging not to attack Saudi Arabia.

Mr Saleh yesterday met members of the national committee that will oversee the implementation of the six conditions. He had briefed them on his "position to stop the war" that has blighted Sa'ada province and Harf Sufian in the neighbouring province of Amran. Yemen said last week it had handed rebels a timetable for implementing the government's ceasefire terms, a week after rejecting a rebel truce offer because it did not include a promise to end hostilities with Saudi Arabia.

According to Mr Qarsha, the deadline for the implementation of the truce had been a point of contention, with the rebels asking for more time for their fighters to leave mountainous positions. The government and rebels had also formed four smaller committees to supervise the truce in four areas, including on the Yemen-Saudi border. @Email:malqadhi@thenational.ae