Yemen leader and Shiite militia 'strike deal' to end crisis

Archive picture of Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi
Archive picture of Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi AFP

Yemen's president and Shiite militia reached a nine-point agreement Wednesday under which the militia are to withdraw from government buildings in return for concessions over a draft constitution, state media reported.


The Houthi militia vowed to vacate the presidential palace, which it seized on Tuesday, and to free President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi's chief of staff as part of a deal also agreed by other factions, the Saba news agency, which published the text of the document, reported.

In return, it will now be "possible to amend" a draft constitution stipulating the division of Yemen into six federal regions that the Houthis opposed, the agency said.

"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".

National talks were held in Yemen as stipulated by a UN-backed agreement that eased former president Ali Abdullah Saleh from office in 2012 after a year of deadly protests.

Turning the country into a federal state was one outcome of the national talks.

The agreement also pledges to treat Houthis, known officially as Ansarullah, and other disgruntled 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," the agreement said.

"These measures will be implemented immediately," it added.

The meeting with Hadi included his advisors who represent some of Yemen's factions, as well as Houthis.

The Houthis, friendly to Iran, swept into the capital four months ago and have emerged as the dominant force in the country. For now at least they appear to have decided to stop short of overthrowing Hadi, possibly preferring to exert control over a weakened leader rather than take on the burden of power

Their defeat of the presidential guards in gunbattles and artillery duels in recent days adds to disarray in a country where the United States is also carrying out drone strikes against one of the most powerful branches of al Qaeda.

By early morning on Wednesday, Houthi fighters, accompanied by an armoured vehicle, had replaced the guards at the president’s residence. Presidential guard sentry posts were initially empty; however a few guards later appeared and were permitted to take up positions.

Yemeni military sources said the Houthis also seized the military aviation college close to Hadi’s home, and the main missile base in Sanaa, without a fight.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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