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Yemen: Houthi-Salafist ceasefire starts as NDC draws to conclusion - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Police troopers man a checkpoint on a road after a ceasefire between Shi'ite Muslim Houthis and Sunni Salafis took effect in the north-western Yemeni province of Saada January 11, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Police troopers man a checkpoint on a road after a ceasefire between Shi’ite Muslim Houthis and Sunni Salafis took effect in the north-western Yemeni province of Saada January 11, 2014. (REUTERS/Stringer)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—A ceasefire began on Saturday between Shi’ite Houthi militias and Sunni Salafists in northern Yemen, as the final session of the country’s National Dialogue Conference came to a close.

Local sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that a ceasefire in Dammaj in the province of Saada was achieved following a new agreement, and that government forces were deployed in the conflict areas to avoid further clashes, especially in Dammaj.

To date, fighting between the two sides in the area has continued intermittently for months, with several ceasefires announced and then broken.

However, with Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference drawing to a close, hopes are growing that attention will now turn to resolving the various regional and sectarian conflicts in the country, beginning with the fighting in Dammaj.

The sources added that a committee appointed by Yemen’s president would also begin attempts to end the clashes between the Houthis and the tribes in the province of Al-Jawf.

In the Shabwah province, where a different presidential committee has been set up, officials said that in the latest violence in that area, “subversive elements” attacked a military checkpoint resulting in one of them being killed and two injured, in addition to one child killed in the crossfire.

During the final session of the conference, the National Dialogue Conference’s committee set up to resolve the issue of North–South tensions in Yemen presented its final report on Saturday. The report proposes a power-sharing agreement between the North and the South.

The committee said that the report, the “resolutions and guarantees document,” was a “new start for a new Yemeni state based on the principles of good governance.”

Members of the team said what had been agreed “resulted from concerns for the ‘Southern Issue’ to be resolved fairly and justly in order to achieve national unity, according to the articles of the Gulf Initiative—its implementation mechanisms and its general principles—and according to UN Security Council Resolutions 2014 and 2051, to preserve the unity of Yemen.”

The report included details of fundamental principles aimed at a comprehensive resolution of what is known as the ‘Southern Issue,’ which calls for the return of an independent Southern state, and to lay the foundations for a reorganization of Yemen on federal lines.

It proposes drafting a new constitution to confer legitimacy of the federal state and the clear distribution of powers and responsibilities, in addition to giving local regions full executive, legislative, judicial and financial powers stipulated by the constitution, including the power to collect taxes.

The report also said natural resources belonged to the people of Yemen, and that the administration and development of natural resources—including oil and gas—and also contracts for exploration and development, would be the responsibility of the authorities in the relevant federal state.

The Southern region would be represented in 50 percent of the executive, legislative and judicial bodies, the report said, including the army and security services, where appointments are made according to decrees by the president or the prime minister. Half of the seats in the country’s parliament would also be reserved for representatives from the South.

However, the president of the republic must form a committee under his leadership to decide on the number of regions and for that the decision to be final. The committee is considering two options: six regions—four in the North and two in the South—or just two larger regions.

In a related issue, Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi said the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference would be marked by the attendance of major Arab and International figures.

During a meeting on Saturday with ambassadors of states which sponsored the Gulf Initiative, Hadi praised international efforts and their support for Yemen in its crisis, and the support for political conciliation based on the Gulf Initiative and Security Council Resolutions 2014 and 2051.

Hadi added: “Yemen is on the verge of a new phase after the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference at political, economic and security levels.”

Hamdan Al-Rahbi contributed reporting from Yemen