Cracks began to emerge within the GPC, led by former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, after the ruling party’s second-in-command announced his support of Hadi earlier this week.
Ahmed Ben Dagher, Saleh’s First Deputy, on Sunday called on the Houthi movement to immediately pull out of the areas they have seized since September and put down their weapons in response to the UN Security Council Resolution 2216.
The internationally-recognized President Hadi was forced to resign earlier this year after an undeclared alliance between Saleh and the Iranian-backed Houthi movement took over large parts of Yemen, including the capital Sana’a.
After concluding an almost four-week military campaign against Houthi positions in Yemen in late April, Saudi Arabia invited all of Yemen’s political factions, including the Shi’ite group, for reconciliation talks under the sponsorship of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in Riyadh.
In a sign of Saleh’s flagging influence within the GPC, Yemen’s ruling party has dispatched a delegation to Riyadh to discuss participation in the talks that are set to launch in mid-May.
Several GPC figures have expressed their opposition to Saleh’s alliance with the Houthis, Abdullah Jabari, the Chairman of the Executive Committee for the Riyadh talks, told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Some GPC members, however, have demanded wider representation in the talks for certain factions as a condition for their participation in the GCC-sponsored conference, the official maintained. He dismissed such calls as an attempt by Saleh’s loyalists to delay or relocate the conference to another Arab capital.
“We welcome the participation of all the Yemeni political factions in a bid to rescue Yemen from sectarianism and infighting,” he added.
According to the official, the newly-appointed UN Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is set to visit Riyadh on Wednesday as part of the preparations for the talks.
He said: “[The UN official] will arrive to Riyadh on Wednesday where he will meet President Hadi and the GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani.”