The top leader of Houthi group on Wednesday called on his allies loyal to the former Yemeni president to form a unilateral government, a day after the UN envoy presented a new peace plan to the Houthis.
“There is no sign indicating an imminent end of the Saudi-led coalition aggression on our country (Yemen),” Abdulmalik al-Houthi, whose fighters control the capital city of Sanaa, said in a televised speech aired by the state TV al-Yemen.
“And what our Yemeni people relay on is the serious and responsible action to reinforce combat fronts,” he said.
“The air, sea and land military push and the economic war continue against the Yemeni people and I call on our allies (of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party) to move rapidly toward forming a national government to confront the Saudi aggression and its mercenaries of (exiled President) Hadi,” al-Houthi said.
On Tuesday, UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed concluded a two-day official visit, during which he presented a new peace plan to the dominant armed Houthi group and its allies of former President Saleh’s powerful party and its armed arm, the Republican Guards Forces, which is still loyal to Saleh and his son, general Ahmed.
The UN envoy said in a press conference before he left Yemen on Tuesday that he presented a new roadmap that addresses security and political arrangements to the Houthis and their allies.
Ould Cheikh Ahmed did not elaborate further on details of such new peace plan, but said the Houthis would respond to the plan in the coming few days.
However, Abdulmalik al-Houthi’s speech on Wednesday was a clear response to the new plan of the UN envoy.
The envoy in his remarks to reporters at Sanaa international airport, which has been blockaded for 19 months by the Saudi-led military coalition, did not spoke about extending the fragile three-day cease-fire that was imposed earlier this week but failed to halt combat.
Airstrikes and ground battles continue day and night and the economic situation is worsening in Yemen with almost 25 million Yemenis being close to a mass famine.
The Yemeni people are tired with no access to food, medicine, fuel, electricity and water supplies since March 2015 when the war erupted between Saleh-backed Houthis and government forces of exiled President Hadi backed by the warplanes of oil-rich neighbouring Saudi Arabia-led military coalition supported by the United States.
There was no official statement either by the UN envoy nor by rival warring parties about the new peace plan.
But local media quoted unnamed officials from Houthi group as saying that the plan stipulated the disarmament of their group in return for dismissing Hadi, his vice President Ali Muhsen al-Ahmar and the forming of a national unity government that includes the Houthis in it.
In many occasions, Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdulsalam reiterated that his group “will not hand over their necks to Saudis, Americans and their mercenaries and that disarmament will not occur.”
Hadi’s Foreign Minister Abdulmalik al-Mikhlafi said in tweets following reports of the UN envoy new peace plan that “any talks or plans that do not include disarmament of Houthis and their allies of Saleh’s loyal forces will not be accepted.”
“Any peace plan that is not based on UN Security Council Resolution 2216 will not be accepted as well,” al-Mikhlafi tweeted.
In the resolution, the Security Council demands that the Houthis withdraw from all areas seized during the latest conflict, relinquish arms seized from military and security institutions, cease all actions falling exclusively within the authority of the legitimate Yemeni government and fully implement previous resolutions.
The conflict in Yemen began after the 2011 Arab-spring style mass protests eventually forced President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
The Houthis, with the support of Saleh, seized capital Sanaa and some other Yemeni cities in September 2014, forcing Hadi and his government into exile.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s conflict in March 2015 with an air force campaign to restore Hadi to power and roll back Houthi gains.
The 19-month civil war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians.