Yemeni Factions To Set Up Interim Presidential Council

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Yemeni children hold automatic rifles as they join grown up relatives in a tribal gathering organized by the Houthis in Sanaa on February 4, 2015. AFP/Mohammed Huwais.

Published Thursday, February 5, 2015

Most Yemeni factions have agreed to set up an interim presidential council to manage the country for up to one year, negotiators said on Thursday, in a major step to ease a power struggle which forced the president to step down on January 22.

The dominant Houthi movement had set a Wednesday deadline for political factions to agree a way out of the crisis that led to the resignation of President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi in late January, otherwise, the group said, it would impose its own solution.

The Houthis deadline was set in a statement issued at the end of a three-day meeting attended by the party of ousted dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh but boycotted by the other major political movements.

The Houthis became power brokers when they seized Sanaa in September. Opponents have staged demonstrations against the Houthis in several cities under the slogan: "Revolt until the overthrow of the coup" forces. There were reports on arrests of several demonstrators and journalists by the Houthis.

On Thursday, delegates said that nine parties and groups, including a faction from the southern separatist Herak group, agreed during negotiations in Sanaa on a five-member presidential council that will be headed by Ali Nasser Mohammed, a former president of South Yemen before the 1990 unification with north Yemen.

A source close to Mohammed confirmed consultations were underway with the former president but said they have yet to be finalized.

According to official sources, the Islamist Islah party and the Yemeni Socialist Party, which ruled the former South Yemen before the 1990 merger, were still considering the agreement and were
expected to give their reply.

The Houthis said in a statement on Wednesday night they had put off acting alone as parties appeared close to a consensus on a way out of the crisis.

Meanwhile, five soldiers have been killed in a suicide bombing in Yemen's central al-Baydaa province, Anadolu news agency said.

An assailant blew up his explosives-laden vehicle outside the 26th Battalion in the province on late Wednesday.

"Five soldiers were killed and seven others injured in the bombing," the source was quoted as saying by the Defense Ministry's website.
Yemen has been in political limbo since Hadi and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah resigned after the Houthis seized the presidential palace and confined the head of state to his residence in a struggle to tighten control over Yemen.

The crisis has raised fears that impoverished Yemen could become a failed state. Yemen's stability is particularly important to Saudi Arabia as it borders the world's top oil exporter.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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