British ambassador argues plan does not violate UN resolution and does not intend to overthrow Hadi
Al Mukalla: Yemen’s government has softened its stance on the latest UN peace plan, saying it had formed political, security and military committees to thoroughly study the plan and get back to the UN envoy who presented it, a senior government official who took part in the foundered peace talks in Kuwait told Gulf News on Monday.
President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and his government had strongly rejected a fresh peace plan that proposes Hadi relinquish his powers to a new vice-president in return for Al Houthis’ withdrawal from major cities and handover of weapons to a third party.
The president previously refused even to receive the written draft of the plan and recently boycotted a scheduled meeting with the UN envoy Esmail Ould Shaikh Ahmad.
“The government has apparently changed its mind and agreed to consider it. They should not have rejected it in the first place if they knew they would bow down to pressure.” the official said on condition of condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to brief reporters.
Al Houthis and their ally, the ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have rejected the plan too, according to Ould Shaikh Ahmad’s recent briefing to the UN Security Council. The government’s positive hint towards the peace plan could revive hopes about reaching a deal that could end 20-month conflict in Yemen.
Responding to the internationally recognised government’s main concerns about the plan, Edmund Fitton-Brown, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Yemen, said that the UN peace plan was not intended to overthrow president Hadi or work against the UN Security Council.
“The resolution was never intended to relieve the Hadi government of its responsibility to negotiate, or to provide for the surrender of one side to the other,” he said.
The British diplomat wrote in an article published on Sunday on the English version of Al Arabiya website, that the plan complies with the UN Security Council since it “would see Al Houthi militia and Saleh loyalists withdraw from areas they have occupied, including the capital Sana’a and the cities of Taiz and Hodeida. They would also be required to hand over their heavy weaponry.”
Separately, the government forces said on Monday that at least 23 Al Houthis, including a field commander called Mohammad Ali Al Arjali were killed in heavy clashes in the cities of Medi and Haradh, in the northern province of Hajja. The fighting erupted when the government forces heavily shelled Al Houthis positions in the two cities as to pave the way for ground to advance further.