Yemen Rival Groups Form Unity Gov't

 Yemen Rival Groups Form Unity Gov't Yemen Rival Groups Form Unity Gov't

Rival groups in Yemen have signed a UN-brokered peace deal after Houthi fighters seized the government headquarters and the prime minister resigned following raging violence in the capital.

“A national peace and partnership agreement based on the outcomes of the national dialogue conference was signed this evening at the presidential palace” in Sana’a, state news agency Saba reported on Sunday, according to AFP.

President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, United Nations envoy Jamal Bin Omar and representatives of Yemen’s political forces, including the Houthis, attended the signing ceremony, it said.

> New Gov't in 1 Month, PM in 3 Days

Bin Omar said the agreement calls for the formation of a new government within one month.

Under the deal, Hadi will also appoint advisers from Houthis and southern separatists within three days, Bin Omar said at the signing ceremony broadcast on state television.

A new premier to replace Mohammad Basindwa will be named by Hadi, also within three days, and must be “neutral and not belonging to any party”, according to the agreement read by Bin Omar.

Two representatives of Houthi leader Abdul Malek Al Houthi signed on behalf of the group, said a journalist who attended the ceremony.

> Handing Over Seized Institutions

Houthi fighters earlier on Sunday swooped on key institutions across Sana’a, including the government headquarters and military sites, after an apparent surrender by security forces.

Under the accord, the Houthis must hand over institutions they have seized, dismantle protest camps they set up in and around Sana’a more than a month ago, and “immediately end all acts of violence”.

After the deal was signed, Saba reported that the fighters began withdrawing from government buildings in a handover overseen by Defense Minister General Mohammad Nasser Ahmad.

In a resignation letter, Basindwa accused Hadi of being “autocratic”, according to the text of the letter released by the council of ministers.

“The partnership between myself and the president in leading the country only lasted for a short period, before it was replaced by autocracy to the extent that the government and I no longer knew anything about the military and security situation,” he wrote.

His resignation had come as Houthis overran state radio, the general command of the armed forces, headquarters of the sixth military region, the fourth brigade and the defense ministry’s media arm.

They swept into the parliament building and took over the central bank and civil aviation authority, the sources said.

The interior ministry’s website urged security forces not to confront the fighters.

> Cooperation for Security, Stability

Interior Minister Abdo Al Tarib instead urged “cooperation” with the fighters “to strengthen security and stability, preserve public property and guard government installations... and to consider Ansar Allah friends of the police.”

The fighters had advanced into Sana’a from their mountain stronghold in the far north last month and set up armed protest camps to press their demands for political change.

Their offensive had been denounced by Hadi on Friday as a “coup attempt”.

Sunday’s developments came a day after the UN announced a power-sharing deal to end a week of fighting between Houthis and pro-government forces which had left dozens dead on both sides and forced the suspension of all flights into and out of Sana’a airport.

> Sharing Power with Houthis

Saba reported late on Sunday that Hadi was meeting Yemeni political forces, including Houthi representatives.

After consulting his newly-appointed advisers, Hadi is expected to name the ministers of defense, interior, foreign affairs and finance.

The new premier will choose the remaining ministers from among candidates presented to him from the various political parties.

Hadi had already agreed to bring Houthis into a new government to replace the unpopular administration that imposed austerity measures, including a fuel price hike, earlier this year.

Houhtis have demanded posts in key state institutions as part of their push for greater political clout.

Yemen has been swept by political turmoil since longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced from the presidency in early 2012.

Houthis have battled the government on and off for a decade from their stronghold of Sa’ada in the far north.