Yemen government delegation leave talks as rebels snub UN-plan

Yemen government delegation leave talks as rebels snub UN-plan
3 min read
01 August, 2016
The ball is in the court of the Houthi rebels, the government delegation said as they announced their departure from the Kuwait-based peace talks on Monday.
Al-Mikhlafi announced the government departure at a live press conference [AFP]

The government representative at Yemen’s peace talks announced the delegations’ departure on Monday after the Houthi rebels rejected a UN peace plan more than two months into negotiations.

Abdulmalik al-Mikhlafi said the government had fulfilled its duties at the Kuwait-based talks and it is now up to the rebels to make a move.

"We are leaving today after having completed our part in the talks," al-Mikhlafi told a press conference on Monday afternoon.

"The ball is now in the rebels' court," he added, noting that the government had made sacrifices in signing the deal despite not backing it fully.

However, the head of the delegation emphasised that although the delegation was departing, they remain willing to engage in dialogue until the extended August 7 deadline.

"The other party now has the key to make the talks fail or succeed... If they agree to the plan, our delegation will return," al-Mikhlafi said, mentioning that Kuwaiti officials warned there will be no further extension to the stagnant peace talks.

“War has never been an option for us, but it is all they (Houthis) know. We remain on the path of dialogue and peace for our country and people,” he said in response to a question by a journalist.

Arab ambassadors responded to the comments by urging the government to continue with the talks.

In a statement released shortly after the press conference, the Group of Ambassadors Accredited to Yemen said it welcomed the extension of the talks in Kuwait and "commends the delegation of the Yemeni government for their willingness to accept the latest UN proposal", urging the government to "continue in the talks led by the UN Special Envoy to achieve an agreement that will bring an end to the conflict and restore stability to Yemen."

"The Ambassadors call on the delegation representing Ansarallah and the GPC to also remain through the extension and to engage with the UN Special Envoy on the proposal in a constructive manner."

On Sunday, the Houthi delegation rejected the UN-proposed peace deal hours after the Yemeni government announced they would sign the agreement.

On Sunday, the Houthi delegation rejected the UN-proposed peace deal hours after the Yemeni government announced they would sign the agreement.

Houthi delegates said that any agreement must first tackle a unity administration, while the proposed deal offered the rebels little in return for peace.

"What was presented by the (UN) envoy was no more than just ideas for a solution to the security aspect, subject to debate like other proposals," a statement from the rebel delegation in Kuwait said.

The draft settlement was "no more than [a] media stunt" aimed at foiling talks, the statement said, according to the rebel rebel-run news agency.

The rebels have insisted that a peace deal must first forge an accord on a new consensual executive authority, including a new president and government.

According to the government, the draft plan calls for the rebels to withdraw from the capital Sanaa and two major cities, hand over heavy arms and return state institutions they seized in September 2014.

More than 6,400 people have been killed in the Arabian Peninsula state since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March last year in support of Hadi's government.

Another 2.8 million people have been displaced and more than 80 percent of the population urgently needs humanitarian aid, according to UN figures.