Houthi rebels in the Yemeni capital Sanaa have demanded the replacement of UN envoy, Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmad, saying that he was no longer welcome in the areas it controls in the city.
The head of the rebel-installed Supreme Political Council, Saleh al-Samad, accused the envoy of bias and said he would no longer be allowed entry to rebel-held areas.
“We say unanimously that the envoy is no longer welcome here,” Samad said in a televised speech late Monday.
“There will be no more contact with Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmad and he is not welcome here.”
The UN envoy has conducted months of shuttle diplomacy with the Saudi-backed government.
Samad said the decision was taken jointly by the Houthi rebels and their allies in former president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s camp.
The Houthis later issued a statement supporting Samad’s position.
The announcement comes after an abortive visit by the envoy to Sanaa last month in which he was mobbed by protesters and failed to secure any meetings with rebel representatives.
He had been trying to broker a ceasefire for the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan which began on May 27.
Last Tuesday, Sheikh Ahmad told the UN Security Council that serious negotiations on the first steps to a cessation of hostilities in Yemen had been slow and the key parties were reluctant to even discuss the concessions needed for peace.
“I will not hide from this council that we are not close to a comprehensive agreement,” he said, adding that Houthi officials refused to meet with him.
Sheikh Ahmad also expressed deep concern over the attack against his convoy.
He urged an investigation of the attack and said “despite its gravity, it has increased my determination to continue with my efforts to find a negotiated political settlement that best serves the interests of the Yemeni people.”
The Security Council reiterated its backing for the UN envoy after the briefing.