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Yemeni officials criticise Houthi delay to peace talks

Ahmed Eleiba , Monday 18 Apr 2016
Yemen
Tribesmen loyal to the Houthi movement attend a gathering in Yemen's capital Sanaa, April 17, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS)
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The delay in arrival of the Houthi delegation and the Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh to Kuwaiti-hosted peace talks was met with criticism from the Yemeni government.

The Yemeni government delegation had arrived a day earlier, where they held preparatory meetings with UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Even though the Yemeni government criticised the delay, several Yemeni officials have stressed the importance of the talks in ending the Yemeni civil war.

The Yemeni deputy prime minister and foreign minister Abdulmalek Al-Mikhlafi said "we are staying in Kuwait until the talks are held, because it is needed to stop the bloodshed in Yemen."

Meanwhile, a source from Saleh's delegation, based in Sanaa, told Ahram Online in a phone interview that the delegation would arrive in Kuwait on Tuesday or Wednesday.

"The delay is due to two reasons: the first one is that a few members of the delegation said they could not go to Kuwait when a ceasefire was not in place on many fronts, such as in Taez, Al-Jawf and Ma'rib, even though an agreement was reached on Sunday and Monday," the source said.

"Apparently there is a gradual ceasefire in place, though it has not been implemented at the scheduled time," the source said.

The second reason for the delay, according to the source, is that a plane was not provided for the two delegations, and that the United Nations, Kuwait, Oman or Saudi Arabia were supposed to provide transportation to Kuwait.

A source from the office of Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi told Ahram Online that the rebels are inquiring about the reason behind the failure to put in place the ceasefire, though this is not an excuse for the delay.

The negotiations will focus on five main points that represent the core of UN resolution 2216, which was handed by Ould Cheikh Ahmed to all parties: the withdrawal of militias and armed groups from all cities without setting any preconditions; the delivery of weapons, especially heavy weaponry, to the state; the formation of a committee to secure the areas after the withdrawal of militias; the militia's handover of authority to the state's institutions; and the formation of a committee to discuss the detainee file and work on the release of prisoners.

Previous attempts at peace talks – including a failed round in January – have been unable to stop the conflict, which the United Nations says has killed more than 6,400 people and forced almost 2.8 million from their homes, according to AFP.

Another source close to the Houthi rebels told Ahram Online that the results of the recent negotiations that took place in Saudi Arabia are still in place and were very fruitful, as they resulted in the release of 30 Houthi rebels.

According to sources from both sides, the Kuwait negotiations will seemingly concern the Houthis and Riyadh only.

A source close to Saleh says that Saudi Arabia aims to exclude Saleh from the scene in order to dismantle his alliance with the Houthis in the short-term.

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