Source: Yemen to name new PM in deal with Houthis

Yemeni Shiite Huthi anti-government demonstrators shout slogans during a demonstration near the government headquarters in Sanaa on September 9, 2014. (AFP)

Yemen's president has offered to appoint a new prime minister within 48 hours under a fresh accord with Shiite rebels in return for ending their protests, a source close to the presidency said Thursday.

There was no immediate confirmation of the deal from the rebels, whose protests -- and the sometimes deadly government response -- have raised fears of worsening unrest in the Arabian Peninsula country.

“An accord was reached... late on Wednesday” to end the country's latest political impasse, by which “a new prime minister will be named within 48 hours” and fuel prices will be further cut, the source said.

President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi promised in an initiative rejected by the Houthi rebels earlier this month to name a new prime minister.

The rebels had been demanding that Hadi consult them before naming a new prime minister. It was unclear if this has been agreed in the overnight accord.

Under the deal, the rebels are to “dismantle their protest camps and pull their armed men” from the capital Sanaa and its surroundings, the presidency source added.

In a potential sign of progress, U.N. envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar arrived in Sanaa early on Thursday, according to sources close to him.

And Gulf Cooperation Council envoy Saleh al-Qunayeer also arrived in the country “to back efforts aimed at easing tensions,” a GCC statement said.

Shiite Houthi activists launched their protest campaign in late July after the government announced a hike in fuel prices.

Under the latest agreement, the increase will be cut in half, after a 30 percent decrease took effect last week.

The rebels set up camps in Sanaa on August 18 and this week escalated their movement.

They clashed with police on Sunday after closing down the main road leading to Sanaa airport as well as the ministries of electricity and telecommunications.

On Tuesday, hundreds tried to storm the government headquarters, sparking clashes with police that left nine protesters and a paramedic dead.

The Houthis have been battling loyalist forces for months for control of key cities north of Sanaa.

Sunni-majority Yemen has been locked in a protracted transition since long-time President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced from power in February 2012 after a deadly 11-month uprising.

Analysts say the rebels are trying to establish themselves as the top political force in the northern highlands, where Shiites are the majority.

The International Crisis Group warned Monday that “Yemen's troubled transition is at a crossroads more dangerous than any since 2011.”

The U.N. Security Council on August 29 called for the camps in Sanaa to be dismantled and for the rebels to pull back from areas they have occupied in recent months.

It had threatened sanctions against groups blocking the political transition in the impoverished country.
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:53 - GMT 10:53
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