Local News

Houthis, government reach agreement to end hostilities

National Yemen

Houthi fighters reached an agreement with Yemen’s government on Wednesday to end a violent stand-off in the capital which saw the presidential palace surronded by the Shiite militiamen amidst fears of a coup in the impoverished Arab nation.

As part of the deal, brokered late on Wednesday, the Houthis agreed to the immediate release of President Abdrabbo Mansour Hadi’s chief of staff, who the group kidnapped on Saturday, and to withdraw their fighters from around the Presidential palace.

President Hadi will amend the constitution and allow the Houthis greater political representation, including the right to nominate government officials, said Yemen’s spokesman in Washington.

The Houthis also agreed to remove checkpoints they had set up in the capital since Monday, the presidency said in its statement, adding that civil servants would return to work and schools and universities would reopen.

But with Houthi fighters still in control of much of the capital it was not clear whether the agreement would hold.

Hadi remained behind closed doors at his residence for much of Wednesday after Houthi militiamen removed his guards and deployed their own fighters there and outside the presidential palace, prompting fears of a coup.

The Houthis, who swept into Sanaa four months ago, seizing government buildings and emerging as the dominant force in the country, said they had not toppled the leader and that he is free to leave his home if he chooses. Further limiting his options, the Houthis have threatened to prosecute Hadi if he resigns.

Their defeat of the presidential guards in gun battles and artillery duels in recent days adds to disarray in a country where the United States is also carrying out drone strikes against one of the most powerful branches of al-Qaeda.

Houthi fighters allowed Prime Minister Khalid Bahah to leave his residence on Wednesday after a two-day siege, a spokesman said..

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