Sunday, September 21, 2014

Yemeni Government, Houthi Rebels Sign Ceasefire Deal: Official
Houthi fighters at checkpoint in Sana'a, Yemen near broadcast
2014-09-22 02:44:08  

SANAA, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Yemeni government and Houthi rebels signed a ceasefire deal on Sunday night after days of deadly clashes in the capital Sanaa, a government official told Xinhua.

The two sides agreed to cease fire in Sanaa immediately, nominate a prime minister in a week, form a technocrat government within a month and decrease fuel prices, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The Houthi group, however, refused to hand over towns and cities seized in the past weeks, withdraw fighters from all areas in Sanaa and put an immediate end to protests, presidency sources told Xinhua.

The deal empowers the Houthi rebels as it allows the group to play an important role in forming a cabinet and determining the future control of the army.

The peace agreement put an end to deadly clashes between the rebels and army supported by Sunni militia which broke out on Tuesday in northwestern Sanaa that have left more than 200 people killed, including about 50 civilians.

It was signed hours after Houthi rebels took control of key government and army institutions, including prime minister's office, national TV station and 1st Armored Division.

Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa resigned his position on Sunday afternoon after Houthis seized northwestern areas of the capital, according to the official Saba news agency.

Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced a peace initiative on Sept. 2, in which he promised to replace the government and appointed a new prime minister within a week, in order to end mass protests led by the Shiite Houthi group.

However, the rebels rejected the initiative and took military offensive against the army and Sunni Islah party, a key role in the cabinet. Hadi's decision also sparked spat in the government and the prime minister refused to resign earlier this month.

The mass protest that erupted in early August was triggered by a steep fuel price hike by a government decree on July 30, in which the price of petrol was increased from 125 Yemeni riyals (0. 58 U.S. dollar) to 200 riyals per litre (0.93 dollar) and diesel from 100 riyals (0.47 dollar) to 195 riyals (0. 91 dollar).

In the ceasefire deal, prices of petrol and diesel are reduced to 150 riyals (0.70 dollar) per litre.

During the week-long clashes, thousands of people fled their homes to southern Sanaa and other provinces, after the rebels took control of Wadi Dhahr and Shamlan areas in the city's north.

And thousands of families were still trapped in those areas where electricity had been cut for four days, waiting for the government to reach ceasefire deal with the Houthi group.

Observers said the deal boosted Houthi's influence from the far north to the capital which brings uncertainties to the ongoing political transition in the Arab country which is drafting a new constitution.

The Houthis have been fighting against the Yemeni army in the country's north for years. The last ceasefire deal between the rebels and government was reached in 2010, after a six-year war during which the rebels took control of Saada province.

However, the group started to further its influence to south in late 2013 when it provoked sectarian conflicts in the northern Amran province, only 60 km north of the capital.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

No comments: