Yemen talks continue despite expired deadline

Different parties pull out of UN-brokered talks, accusing Houthi rebels of "intimidation" and seeking to stage a coup.

    Yemen talks continue despite expired deadline
    Critics of the UN-brokered talks have called them political cover for a Houthi coup in Yemen [Reuters]

    Warring factions in Yemen are still discussing a possible solution to the country's political crisis in UN-brokered talks after a deadline set by Houthi forces in control of the capital expired. 

    The Houthis did not make a statement after the expiration of the deadline on Wednesday afternoon, likely waiting for an announcement from the UN. 

    They had previously said if an agreement was not reached in the three days of talks, they would seize power.

    The Houthis had demanded the formation of a presidential council - a proposal now favoured by the General People's Congress (GPC), the party of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is an ally of the Houthis.

    The GPC has called for Saleh loyalist and parliament speaker Yahia al-Rai to fulfil his constitutional responsibilities and assume the presidency until a transition deal is reached. 

    The Mushtarak party, on the other hand, is trying to convince Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who stepped down as president under pressure, to return to his post, with the appointment of one or two vice presidents.

    Hadi quit on January 22 after Houthi fighters seized the presidential palace in the capital of Sanaa.

    The "Southern Movement", another party to the negotiations, suspended its participation in talks at the beginning of the month, saying they were taking place "under intimidation and a siege of legitimate authorities".

    The group demands a return to the full independence that the southern region enjoyed from 1967 to 1990.

    Abdullah Noaman, the leader of the Nasserite Party, which also pulled out of the talks, accused the Houthis of using the talks as "political cover to complete their coup".

    Houthi fighters killed

    While the talks continued, a car bomb explosion on Wednesday killed at least four Houthi fighters and injured five others in the al-Baida governate. 

    Local sources said that Houthi fighters dressed in army uniform were on their way to storm the 26th Mechanised Brigade in the Sawadiyah District of al-Baida when a huge explosion hit their convoy. 

    Al-Qaeda is highly active in the al-Baida province but it was not immediately clear whether the group was responsible.

    In the city of Hodeidah, anti-Houthi protesters said that dozens were injured when Houthi fighters opened fire with live ammunition on their peaceful demonstration. 

    They also said dozens of protesters were detained by Houthi fighters.

    Last week, Houthi fighters beat dozens of anti-Houthi protesters marching in Sanaa with batons and knives. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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