Yemen president urges Huthi rebels to leave Sanaa
Yemeni president Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi Mansour - REUTERS/Mike Segar

SANAA: Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi urged Shiite rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi to withdraw his militant followers from the capital following the failure of negotiations on their demands.

In a letter to the rebel chief, of which AFP has obtained a copy, Hadi also called on the rebels to “complete their exit from Amran province” just north of Sanaa, after temporarily taking control in July.

The president also wants “a cease-fire in (neighboring) Al-Jawf province” where pro-rebel tribes have been battling the army.

Hadi’s letter sets out those conditions for a resumption of talks with the Zaidi Shiite rebels after the president’s envoys last week came away without an agreement following three days of discussions with Huthi in Saada province, the rebels’ northern stronghold.

Huthi’s followers want the resignation of the government, seen as corrupt, the cancellation of a recent fuel price rise and a broader political partnership.

To support their claims the rebels mobilized armed fighters who have been camped out around Sanaa for the past week, while civilian activists have staged a sit-in near the interior ministry in the city center.

Hadi, in his letter, asks the rebel chief to “remove the causes of the tension” to encourage a resumption of negotiations on the basis of “points agreed with the presidential delegation.”

He gave no details of the “points agreed.”

The president requested Huthi to “appoint representatives to resume dialogue with the presidential delegation” in a last bid to ease the crisis in Yemen, where a wave of violence attributed to Al-Qaeda and a separatist movement in the south have accentuated economic problems.

The impoverished country has been locked in a protracted transition since long-time strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced from power in February 2012 after a deadly 11-month uprising.

Plans for a 6-region federation have been rejected by both the Huthis and the southern separatists.

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