Saleh party accepts UN plan to end Yemen conflict
SANAA - Ousted Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh's party, allied with Shiite Huthi rebels, announced Wednesday it has accepted a UN plan to end the country's seven-month-old conflict.
The announcement on the General People's Congress party website, almotamar.net, comes as UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed holds secret talks with GPC and Huthi representatives in neutral Oman.
The party's secretary general, Aref Zouka, has sent a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon stating the GPC is "committed to implementing the seven points set in coordination with the UN envoy" to end the conflict, it said.
Under the plan, the GPC would accept UN Security Council Resolution 2216 under an "implementation mechanism that would be agreed on by all parties" in Yemen, the party said.
Resolution 2216 calls for the withdrawal of rebel forces from territories they have captured and for them to lay down their arms.
The Iran-backed Huthis overran the capital Sanaa unopposed in September 2014 and went on to battle for control of several regions, aided by renegade troops loyal to Saleh.
In July, loyalist forces backed by a Saudi-led Arab coalition evicted the rebels from five southern provinces, and they have since set their sights on Sanaa.
Zouka called in his letter for "ending the war and urged all parties to start negotiations to set in place an implementation mechanism for Resolution 2216 that would organise withdrawal from cities and disarmament of all parties."
This must take place under UN supervision to prepare for a relaunch of the political process.
A first attempt to hold peace talks in Geneva in June between the pro-government forces and Huthi rebels collapsed without the warring parties even sitting down in the same room.
Last month, President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi's government backed away from UN-sponsored talks that were to be held in Oman, insisting the rebels first withdraw from territory they have seized.
Oman is the only member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Riyadh, not taking part in the Saudi-led coalition's air war launched in March against the rebels, and Muscat also has good ties with Tehran.
Hadi's internationally-recognised government has insisted on the unconditional implementation of Resolution 2216.
The GPC said the resolution's implementation must be accompanied by a halt to military operations and lifting of the blockade imposed by the coalition on Yemen.