Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—The rebel Houthi movement and Yemen’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party turned down on Tuesday a proposal by embattled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to move UN-sponsored talks to Riyadh, a government source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the Shi’ite rebel group and the GPC, led by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, rejected the proposal Hadi had put forward during a meeting with several tribal leaders from the southern city of Aden.
Hadi fled to Aden in late February after escaping house arrest in Sana’a where the Houthis had earlier stormed the presidential palace and forced him to step down.
The UN Envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar has struggled to bring the country’s warring political parties to the negotiating table since the Iran-backed Houthis seized Sana’a in September.
A previous call by Hadi to hold the talks in Aden was also rejected by the Shi’ite group.
Meanwhile, reports have emerged claiming Oman is seeking to play host to the talks given its strong ties with Tehran and the Yemen government. The Sultanate is the only Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member not to have shut down its embassy in Sana’a. The remaining five members all moved their diplomatic missions to Aden, in a show of support for Hadi.
When asked about their stance towards the proposal to hold the talks in Riyadh, a source from the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP)—a coalition of six opposition parties—said the Al-Islah Party, Nasserist Unionist People’s Organization and the Yemeni Socialist Party have dispatched representatives to Aden to discuss the new venue with Hadi.
The JMP, which pulled out of dialogue with the Houthis, said it would only return to talks with the rebel group if its conditions of acknowledging Hadi’s legitimacy and involving him in the talks were met.
Talks resumed on Tuesday in Sana’a under the supervision of Benomar and with the participation of the Al-Islah, Nasserist and socialist parties as well as the GPC and the Houthis.
A source who participated in the talks, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said the main demands on the table were the relocation of the talks out of Sana’a as well as securing the release of prime minister Khaled Bahah and other government officials.
In the first presidential decree issued since retracting his resignation, Hadi appointed on Tuesday Brig. Thabit Jawwas as commander of the Special Security Forces in Aden. The change came a week after Hadi faced a mutiny by soldiers guarding his residence in the city.