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Middle east

President declares ceasefire with Shiite rebels

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-12

Yemen has agreed with Shi'ite rebels to end a war that began in 2004 and drawn in Saudi Arabia. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced on television that the ceasefire is effective from midnight, local time.

REUTERS - Yemen agreed with northern Shi’ite rebels on Thursday to end a war that has raged on-and-off since 2004 and drew in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. A truce was to begin at midnight (2100 GMT), a Yemeni official said.

The Yemeni government, simultaneously battling a resurgent al Qaeda and southern separatists in addition to the northern insurgents, has been exchanging proposals with the Shi’ite rebels in recent days to end the conflict.

“The ceasefire is going to be in effect at 12 midnight,” the official told Reuters.

There was no immediate response from the rebels, who complain of social, religious and economic discrimination.

Yemen said last week it had handed rebels a timetable for implementing the government’s ceasefire terms, a week after rejecting a rebel truce offer because it did not include a promise to end hostilities with Saudi Arabia.

The world’s largest oil exporter was drawn into the conflict in November when the rebels seized some Saudi territory, complaining that Riyadh was letting Yemeni troops use its land for attacks against them.

Riyadh declared victory over the insurgents last month after insurgents offered a separate truce and said they had withdrawn from Saudi territory. But the rebels say Saudi airstrikes have continued.

Yemeni officials have said that as part of a truce deal, Sanaa would allow rebel representatives to sit on a committee overseeing the truce, and insurgents would hand over weapons they seized from the Yemeni and Saudi forces.

The official said President Ali Abdullah Saleh had briefed a committee charged with supervising conditions for a truce on his “position to stop the war”.

Yemen state television said the government and rebels had also formed four smaller committees to supervise the truce in four areas, including on the Yemen-Saudi border.

The deadline for the full implementation of the truce had been a point of contention, with the rebels asking for more time for their fighters to leave mountainous positions, they said.

Qatar brokered a short-lived ceasefire between the government and rebels in 2007 and a peace deal in 2008, but clashes soon broke out again. Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh unilaterally declared the war over in July 2008.  Full-scale fighting resumed a year later.

Date created : 2010-02-11

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