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Hadi delegation suspends direct talks with Houthis

1 May 2016 18:37



The camp of Yemen’s resigned president Abd Rabbuah Mansour Hadi has suspended its participation in the ongoing direct talks with representatives from Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Sources close to the Saudi-backed Hadi delegation said on Sunday that the talks were suspended in protest against a recent takeover of the Umaliqa military base province of Amran by Ansarullah and allied army units.

Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi, who heads Hadi delegation in Kuwait, said the seizure of strategically-important base in the north of the capital Sana’a on Saturday evening had “torpedoed” the talks.

Hadi’s representatives say a session that had been scheduled for Sunday afternoon would not take place anymore. However, they said they would continue indirect talks under the aegis of the United Nations special envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

This is while Yemen’s official SabaNet news agency has accused Saudi Arabia and pro-Saudi militants loyal to Hadi of violating the truce 4,000 times, saying shelling, bombing raids and airstrikes had raised tensions.

The development comes as UN mediator had recently expressed optimism about the ongoing round of negotiations between Yemeni warring sides as long drawn-out peace talks.

On Thursday, Ould said that a “positive atmosphere” prevailed during talks under way in Kuwait, warning, however, that differences still remain between representatives of the Houthi Ansarullah movement and the camp of the resigned president Hadi.

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed speaks during a press conference at the Information ministry in Kuwait City on April 26, 2016. (AFP photo)

According to UN envoy,  the delegates have been discussing “the issues related to the withdrawal of armed groups, handover of heavy weapons, resumption of the political transition and the release of prisoners and detainees.” He said the two sides have also been engaged in talks about how they could strengthen a ceasefire currently in force across Yemen.

The Hadi delegation said they have proposed a mechanism on how to implement the withdrawal of the Houthis from areas they have captured and who they will start handover of heavy arms.

Houthis, however, have insisted that a political settlement should be discussed before any talks on arms handover.

The UN Security Council on Monday stressed that the sides involved in the talks must assign importance to agreeing on a “roadmap” to implement security measures.

Yemeni children look at buildings that were damaged by airstrikes carried out by Saudi Arabia on March 23, 2016 in the UNESCO-listed old city of Yemeni capital Sana’a. (AFP photo)

More than 9,500 people have been killed in more than a year of military conflict in Yemen as Saudi Arabia, which backs Hadi, has been incessantly bombarding areas under the control of Houthis.

The Saudi airstrikes have destroyed the infrastructure in Yemen as the impoverished nation struggles to cope with shortage of food and basic medications due to Saudi blockade of the Arab country.

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