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Week-long Yemen ceasefire to coincide with peace talks

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said a swift halt to fighting was imperative [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 December, 2015

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Yemen's president has asked the Saudi-led coalition to begin a seven-day ceasefire on 15 December to coincide with UN-sponsored peace talks aimed at ending months of fighting.
Warring factions in Yemen are preparing to observe a week-long truce from 15 December, while United Nations-mediated peace talks take place in Switzerland, Yemen's foreign minister said on Tuesday.

"An agreement on a ceasefire between the government and the putschists should enter into force on 15 December with the start of negotiations," said Abd al-Malak al-Mekhlafi.

  
Yemen Crisis: Click to enlarge

A source in the cabinet of Yemen's President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi said the truce would last seven days, as specified in a letter sent by Hadi to the UN Security Council.

Talks to ease fighting across Yemen have been stalled for months, with the conflict escalating since March when a pro-government coalition led by Saudi Arabia began bombarding the Houthi rebels.

With the humanitarian crisis in the impoverished country worsening, UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said on Monday that a swift halt to the fighting was imperative for those caught up in what has increasingly become a regional conflict.

Ahmed told reporters that three delegations would take part in talks likely to be held outside Geneva which will last "as long as it takes".

The delegations include representatives of Hadi's government, the Houthi rebels, and officials from the General People's Congress [GPC], who are loyalists of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Though not formally aligned, some GPC members have expressed support for the Houthis.

According to the cabinet source, the agreement reached ahead of talks calls on the rebels to "lift the siege of towns, allow the entry of humanitarian aid, and free military and political detainees".

The truce "will be supervised by the UN and could be extended if respected by the [rebels]," the source added.

There was no immediate confirmation from the rebels that they would abide by a ceasefire.

The governor of Yemen's second city Aden was killed on Sunday by a car bomb that tore through a residential neighbourhood.

The attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, killed Major General Gaafar Mohammad Saad and at least six of his bodyguards in the Tawahi district of the major port city.

Hadi named a new governor to replace Saad on Monday.

Aidarus al-Zubaidi, the leader of the pro-government Popular Resistance militia in Daleh province, has been appointed the new governor, according to a presidential decree.

The UN says more than 5,700 people have been killed in Yemen, almost half of them civilians, since the Saudi-led air campaign began.

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