Yemen announces truce with Houthis, conditions agreed

President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced a ceasefire agreement with Houthi fighters in a conflict that spilled over into Saudi territory in the north.

Yemen announces truce with Houthis, conditions agreed

President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced on Thursday a ceasefire agreement with Houthi fighters in a conflict that spilled over into Saudi territory in the north.

A ceasefire was to begin at midnight (2100 GMT).

Saleh said in a decree that was read out on state television, "We decided to stop military operations in the northwest region starting from midnight tonight."

"That is to stop the bloodshed and bring peace to the northwest region and to return the displaced to their villages," it added.

Saleh made the announcement after reports that the government and Shiite Zaidi fighters, also known as Houthis, were close to reaching a deal to end the fighting.

The truce was made possible after the fighters accepted six conditions put forward by the government for the cessation of hostilities.

The leader of the Houthis ordered his fighters to abide by the ceasefire.

"According to what was agreed upon, Abdel-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi issued instructions to all fronts and fighting sites to stop firing coinciding with the timing announced by the government," a statement said.


Riyadh was drawn into the conflict in November when the fighters seized some Saudi territory, complaining that Riyadh was letting Yemeni troops use its land for attacks against them.

Riyadh declared victory over the fighters last month after insurgents offered a separate truce and said they had quit Saudi territory. Fighters say Saudi air strikes have continued.

Conditions

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

"I am optimistic this time that the Houthis will be committed and the ceasefire will last," a senior Yemeni government official said.

The conditions demanded of the Houthis include opening roads and freeing detained soldiers and civilians, whether Yemeni or Saudi.

Yemen says the Houthis must also return captured military and civilian equipment, stay out of local politics and end border hostilities with Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni government statement said the rebels had agreed to ending attacks on Saudi Arabia, a condition Sanaa added after Riyadh launched an assault against the Houthis in November.

One official said President Ali Abdullah Saleh had briefed a committee charged with supervising conditions for a truce on his decision to stop the war, which the United Nations says has displaced 250,000 people.

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

The committees were to start work on Friday, and one official said they would be flexible on the timeline for truce conditions to be fulfilled.

The Houthis said they would start opening the roads and removing checkpoints once the truce stabilised.

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


Agencies

Last Mod: 12 Şubat 2010, 11:27
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