UN envoy hopes to announce Yemen ceasefire deal soon
MUSCAT // The United Nations’ envoy for Yemen said on Friday after meeting with Houthi forces in Oman that he hoped to announce a ceasefire in the next few days.
Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told Oman’s state news agency, ONA, that Houthi representatives and their allies had said a ceasefire was necessary. But he added he had yet to discuss the matter with exiled Yemeni president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.
“They were long and positive meetings, which make me optimistic. They have agreed during them to accept a ceasefire for 72 hours in Yemen which could be extended,” said Mr Ould Cheikh Ahmed. The Houthis and their allies, who are supporters of the ousted former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, “are convinced of the need for a ceasefire, he added. The envoy is due to meet president Hadi in Saudi Arabia and hoped to draft a new peace plan for Yemen “in the next two weeks”.
Mr Hadi’s internationally-recognised government, which is supported by a Saudi-led coalition alliance of mostly Arab states, including the UAE, is battling the Houthis who took over the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014. Civil war erupted after the rebels pushed the Yemen government into exile in March 2015.
The Houthis toughened demands this week for the resumption of peace talks, insisting on Mr Hadi’s departure from office and on an agreement over the presidency – all of which complicates UN efforts to bring the parties back to talks.
A shaky ceasefire between the government and the Iran-aligned Houthis came into effect in April and brought some respite from the war. However, three months of negotiations in Kuwait ended in August without a breakthrough, and fighting and Saudi-led air strikes resumed, prompting UN envoy Mr Ould Cheikh Ahmed to warn that restoring a ceasefire for Yemen was critical.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia’s southern Jizan province, a Yemeni man was killed and two others, including a child, were wounded by a shell fired by Houthi forces from inside Yemen, Saudi state news agency Spa reported on Friday.
Yemeni health authorities on Thursday confirmed that cholera has broken out in the capital, Sanaa, with other cases suspected in Taez.
Updated: October 7, 2016 04:00 AM