Yemen’s feuding parties have agreed on a “people’s transitional council” to help govern the country and guide it out of a political crisis, UN mediator Jamal Benomar has announced.
The decision on Friday came after the takeover of power by the Houthi movement, a Shia Muslim group, which led to the resignation of the president last month and the paralysis of many of Yemen’s state institutions.
“This progress is not a [final] agreement, but an important breakthrough that paves the way towards a comprehensive agreement,” Benomar said in a statement.
As part of the new formula, Yemen’s old 301-member house of representatives, made up overwhelmingly of MPs from the former ruling party thought to be sympathetic to the Houthis, will stay in place.
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Instead of the traditional upper house, a new transitional council will consist of traditionally unrepresented sectors among Yemen’s formerly independent South, women and young people.
Together the two bodies will make legislation guiding Yemen’s transition.
Arrangements for the vacated presidency and ministries along with security required further dialogue, Benomar added.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from the capital Sanaa, Hakim Al Masmari, editor of the Yemen Post , said the agreement “shows that Yemen does not want a civil war”.
“This is a step in the right direction … just that fact that the opposing parties are talking to each other is positive.
“The deal has only been announced by the UN envoy which is very awkward. Political parties have not talked about this or announced about the deal.”
The transitional national council will be in charge to lead the country for the next two years.
“The representation will be 50 percent for southerners, 30 percent for women and 20 per cent youth. But again, the details about the distribution of these seats have not been agreed on,” Al Masmari said.
“It’s an initial deal and very far from a final deal.”
There was no immediate comment by the Houthis or the two main Sunni Islamist and socialist opposition parties.
Security in Yemen has been steadily deteriorating since the Houthis invaded Sanaa in September and began imposing their writ on the government.
Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reporting from the city of Taiz, said the atmosphere in the country remained tense.
“We drove here from Aden yesterday. [There are] hundreds of checkpoints on the road, mainly by southern popular committees making themselves ready for a possible invasion by the Houthis. There are rumours about that,” he said.
Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia along with the US have both closed their embassies in Sanaa and fear the political vacuum may empower al-Qaeda’s strong affiliate in Yemen and even fuel a full-blown sectarian civil war.