A plane meant to carry Houthi rebels representatives and their allies to talks in Geneva left Sana’a International Airport without the delegates on board, airport officials said Saturday.
The absence casts doubt on whether the U.N.-led meetings will be able to go forward as planned. The talks are slated to be first substantive meetings by all parties involved in the conflict.
The delegation representing the government of embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi arrived in Geneva Saturday morning, an official from the presidency confirmed.
Houthi representative said that the Houthis objected to the idea of two separate delegations to the talks–one representing the embattled government, and one seen as representing a “coup.”
He said this arrangement created an environment aimed at pressuring the Houthis to withdraw from Sana’a, rather than continuing a broader multi-party discussion. The Houthis had initially welcomed the meetings.
The U.N. had said the talks would start as proximity talks but the U.N. would seek to bring warring factions around the same table.
The Yemeni government and the U.N. did not immediately comment. On Friday, the U.N. had announced that the talks would be pushed back a day until Monday “due to unforeseen circumstances” that would delay the arrival of one of the delegations.
Houthi spokesman Mohammed AbdulSalam, said that they did not receive the meeting literature and therefor they refused to go for show.