Houthis sign deal with Sanaa to end Yemen crisis

Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi speaks as he holds up an agreement signed between the government and Houthi rebels, in Sanaa September 21, 2014.

Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi speaks as he holds up an agreement signed between the government and Houthi rebels, in Sanaa September 21, 2014.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi signed on Sunday a deal with Houthi rebels to end the crisis in the Arab country, hours after the rebel group seized strategic positions in the capital Sanaa.

In a televised address, Hadi called for the immediate implementation of the deal, which he said was necessary to “prevent an ordeal for the country.”

The deal, which stipulates that the present government resign and a new one replace it, was signed in the presence of United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar, who said the president would appoint Houthi political advisers as part of the pact.

Benomar also said the deal stipulates economic program that would see the reduction in the price of fuel, which had prompted the uprising the present government.

The U.N. official also said all components of Yemeni society would take part in preparations for elections.

The agreement came hours after Yemeni Prime Minster Mohammad Basindawa tendered his resignation.

Benomar said sit-ins by supporters of Houthi rebels in the capital would need to come to an end following the nomination of a new prime minister.

Basindawa said his decision to step down in order to pave the way for the deal.

“I have decided to tender my resignation from the government [of national reconciliation] out of my concern to pave the way for any agreement reached between the brother leaders of Ansarullah [the Houthis] and brother Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the president of the republic,” Basindwa wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

Violence in Yemen peaked Sunday after Houthi rebels seized control of strategic posts, including the government headquarters.

The rebels returned control of the complex to military police, Yemen’s state news agency said, minutes after the announcement of the agreement, which Hadi described as “historic.”

The rebels, who had been locked in deadly clashes for days with Sunni fighters and troops, also took over the state radio station earlier in the day, Agence France Press quoted officials as saying.

Yemeni officials estimate that more than 100 people have died in the fighting, which has largely been concentrated in northern Sanaa near the headquarters of the First Armoured Division, a force loyal to an army general viewed by the Houthis as linked to hardline Sunni Islamists hostile to them.

One resident in the area told Reuters on Sunday he had counted at least 10 bodies – six Houthi fighters and four uniformed soldiers – killed in the fighting.

Benomar, who held talks with Houthi leader Abdulmalek al-Houthi in his home province of Saada on Wednesday and Thursday, announced late on Saturday that an agreement had been reached and was to be signed on Sunday.

The picture appeared murky but residents said Houthis gained control of some vacant government buildings, including the prime minister’s building and a building belonging to the army general command after security forces vacated them.

The Interior Ministry’s website said the minister has instructed security forces to avoid clashing with the Houthis.

One Houthi rebel leader told Reuters late on Saturday his group had stepped up shelling of government forces and had driven soldiers out of the state television headquarters.

“We controlled a military unit east of the First Armoured Division …. and we continued heavy shelling of the division headquarters and the nearby Iman university in all directions,” Ali al-Emad said.

Curfew

Students and security guards at the university run by Abdel-Majeed al-Zindani, a prominent cleric who is on a U.S. terrorism blacklist, were later forced to quit the campus due to the Houthi attacks, a university official told Reuters on Sunday.

Fighting raged throughout Saturday on the outskirts of Sanaa and the rebels said they had taken control of the headquarters of state television, though broadcasting continued from a different location.

Prime Minster Mohammad Basindawa.

Prime Minster Mohammad Basindawa.

 
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