Thousands of Yemenis protested against a new peace proposal to end the conflict submitted by the UN envoy to the war-torn country, saying the plan would legitimise the rebels’ power grab.
The demonstrations in the southern city of Aden and other locations took place on Thursday shortly before UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed arrived in the capital Sanaa for peace talks with Houthi rebels.
“We reject the plan of Ould Cheikh,” read one of the banners carried by protesters in Aden – the government’s temporary base – who responded to a call by authorities in the city to rally.
“No to an initiative that legitimises the coup,” said another.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi on Saturday rejected the envoy’s peace plan, saying it would reward the Houthis for seizing the capital and “opens a door towards more suffering and war”.
Hadi enjoys the backing of a Saudi-led Arab coalition that launched a military campaign in March 2015 after the rebels closed in on his refuge in Aden.
The contents of the roadmap, which the envoy presented to the rebels on Tuesday, have not been made public.
But informed sources say the proposal calls for agreement on naming a new vice president after the rebels withdraw from Sanaa and other cities and hands over heavy weapons to a third party.
Hadi would then transfer power to the vice president who would appoint a new prime minister to form a government in which the north and south of Yemen would have equal representation.
Hundreds of people also rallied against the plan Thursday in Marib, east of Sanaa, and in the southeastern province of Hadramawt, witnesses said.
Hadi described the new proposal as an “explicit departure” from the UN Security Council’s resolution 2216, which calls on rebels to withdraw from territory they have captured since 2014.
The Houthis have called the plan a “basis for discussion” despite containing “fundamental flaws”.
The conflict has killed at least 10,000 people so far, according to the United Nations.