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Yemen peace talks collapse after three months

August 6, 2016

The UN envoy to Yemen has slammed the rebel's governing council but also insisted the talks had not failed and would resume. Rebels rejected a UN-backed peace plan because it didn't meet their main goal - power sharing.

UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed speaks from a podium.
UN Special Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh AhmedImage: Getty Images/AFP/Y.Al-Zayyat

Peace talks aimed at ending Yemen's civil have collapsed as rebel forces rejected a UN-backed peace plan opting, instead, naming members to their own governing council.

The UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed closed the talks on Saturday but announced a new round of negotiations would begin in one month.

"We will be leaving Kuwait today but the Yemeni peace talks are continuing," Ould Cheikh Ahmed told journalists.

Yemen - Hope for peace?

In the interim he said bilateral talks with the two sides would take place in an effort to work out details for a peace plan.

"We have guarantees and commitments from the two sides that they are ready to return to the negotiating table," he said.

Talks between Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and Yemeni government representatives began April 21 in Kuwait City and ended without any discernible progress, but Ould Cheikh Ahmed refused to call the negotiations a failure.

"In fact, we have not failed. We believe the Kuwait talks made great progress," he said without elaborating.

A short time earlier he slammed the rebels announced governing council, saying it gravely violated UN Security Council resolutions on how to solve the conflict and warned the warring parties against "unilateral actions."

"We condemn any unilateral steps," he said. "These do not serve the Yemeni people or the peace process."

Houthi Salah al-Sammad and Sadek Abu Ras, deputy head of Saleh's General People's Congress Party.
Salah al-Sammad, head of the Yemen's Houthi political wing Ansarullah, and Sadek Abu Ras, deputy head of Saleh's General People's Congress PartyImage: Getty Images/AFP/M. Huwais

Loyal to former president

Shiite Houthi rebels and fighters loyal to their ally, former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, appointed a council to govern Yemen last week. The 10 member council includes Salah al-Sammad, head of the Houthis' political wing Ansarullah, and Sadek Abu Ras, deputy head of Saleh's party, the General People's Congress.

UN-backed peace plan did not meet the rebels' key demand for a power sharing government.

That condition is tantamount to an explicit call for the removal of the internationally recognized president, Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. He is demanding implementation of a UN Security Council resolution mandating the withdrawal of the Shiite Houthi rebels from all cities.

The Houthi rebels overran Sanaa, the capital, in late 2014 before capturing other parts of Yemen. Saudi Arabia responded by forming a Sunni coalition that launched a fierce air campaign against the rebels in March 2015.

Despite that effort the rebels maintain control of the capital and have ceded little territory elsewhere.

The UN says more than 6,400 people have been killed in the small Arabian Peninsula country since fighting broke out - many of them civilians.

Another 2.8 million people have been driven from their homes, and more than 80 percent of the population is in need of humanitarian aid.

bik/bw (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)