Yemeni president urges rebels to leave Sanaa

President calls on Houthi rebel leader to withdraw his followers from the capital, where they had been protesting.

Protesters in Sanaa are demanding the government's resignation and a rollback of fuel subsidy cuts [Reuters]

Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has urged Shia rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi to withdraw his protesting followers from the capital following the failure of negotiations on their demands.

In a letter to the rebel chief, of which AFP has obtained a copy, Hadi also called on the rebels to “complete their exit from Amran province” just north of Sanaa, after temporarily taking control in July.

The president also wants “a ceasefire in (neighbouring) Al-Jawf province” where pro-rebel tribes have been battling the army.

Hadi’s letter sets out those conditions for a resumption of talks with the Zaidi Shia rebels after the president’s envoys last week came away without an agreement following three days of discussions with Houthi in Saada province, the rebels’ northern stronghold.

Houthi’s followers want the resignation of the government, seen as corrupt, the cancellation of a recent fuel price rise and a broader political partnership.

To support their claims the rebels mobilised armed fighters who have been camped out around Sanaa for the past week, while civilian activists have staged a sit-in near the interior ministry in the city centre.

Hadi, in his letter, asks the rebel chief to “remove the causes of the tension” to encourage a resumption of negotiations on the basis of “points agreed with the presidential delegation.”

He gave no details of the “points agreed”.

The president requested Houthi to “appoint representatives to resume dialogue with the presidential delegation” in a last bid to ease the crisis in Yemen, where a wave of violence attributed to al-Qaeda and a separatist movement in the south have accentuated economic problems.

Source: AFP