Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi and the country’s powerful Ansarullah group agreed Wednesday to end a deadly confrontation that had raised fears the impoverished but strategic country might descend into chaos.
The Huthis, seized almost full control of the capital Sanaa in September and have fought pitched battles with government forces this week as they continued to press for more political power.
Under a nine-point deal, the group agreed to withdraw from government buildings they seized this week in return for concessions over a disputed draft constitution, state news agency Saba said.
The Huthis pledged to vacate the presidential palace, a day after seizing it, and to free Hadi’s chief of staff, who was captured Saturday.
In return, it would now be “possible to amend” the draft constitution dividing Yemen into six federal regions, which the Huthis opposed, said Saba.
“The draft constitution should be agreed upon by all factions,” according to the deal, and Yemen “will be a federal state in accordance with the outcome of the national dialogue.”
The agreement also pledges to treat Ansarullah, and other factions equally in the allocation of public posts.
“Ansarullah and peaceful Southern Movement and all other political factions deprived of equal representation in state institutions will have the right to be appointed in these institutions,” it said.
On Tuesday, the group seized Hadi’s offices at the presidential palace.
There were no signs of violence Wednesday, after at least 35 people were killed and 94 wounded in the two previous days.
The agreement came as UN special envoy Jamal Benomar traveled to the region in a bid to defuse the mounting crisis.
The escalation has raised fears of a collapse of Hadi’s government, a key US ally.
The United States said it was closely monitoring the crisis after officials revealed a US diplomatic vehicle had been attacked.
US President Barack Obama “is being updated by his national security team,” on the unrest, a senior administration official said.
“We strongly condemn the violence and those stoking it in an effort to disrupt Yemen’s political transition,” the official said.
Military officials said the US military was ready to evacuate American diplomats and other personnel from Yemen, but the State Department has so far not ordered the embassy to close.
Meanwhile, top US diplomat John Kerry said that the Yemen government is accepting many demands put forward by a rebel group in a deal to end a deadly political crisis.
Kerry told reporters it was his understanding that the government of President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi is “going to accept if not all, most of, the objections that the Huthis had,” as news of the deal emerged in Sanaa.
He also revealed he would head later Wednesday to the White House for talks on the crisis which has rocked the US ally.
“The Huthis had… violent objections to the refusal of the Hadi government to accept all of their demands with respect to the peace and partnership agreement and its implementation,” Kerry said after talks with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
That had led to violence and “some of the institutions had broken down, and they’re in trouble,” Kerry said.
He stressed the powerful rebel militia had declared that Hadi was still president, and US officials were waiting to hold another meeting with the beleaguered Yemeni leader.
That would “make a determination from his point of view exactly where things stand,” Kerry said, after being asked about the confusing, fluid events in the Yemeni capital, where the militia has fought pitched battles with government forces this week.
“Things are quiet in Yemen as of a little while ago. Our personnel are well-protected, we have strong and multiple personnel there,” he said.