SANAA, (Reuters) – Yemen has handed over to Shi’ite rebels a timetable to implement the government’s ceasefire terms, in an effort to end the conflict in the north of the country, a Yemeni presidential adviser said on Saturday.
“The security committee has drawn up a timetable … and it has been handed over to (rebel leader Abdul-Malik) al-Houthi through mediators,” Abdul-Karim al-Iryani told reporters. “If he signs it, the war will stop,” he said, adding that committees including rebel representatives would be set up to oversee the implementation of the six truce terms.
The rebels have said they would accept conditions set by Sanaa for a ceasefire that include the removal of rebel checkpoints, withdrawal of forces and clarification of the fate of kidnapped foreigners.
The government says the rebels must also return captured military and civilian equipment, stay out of local politics and end border hostilities with forces of neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
Last week Yemen rejected a truce offer from the rebels because they did not promise to end hostilities against Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh, which last month declared a full victory over the insurgents, was drawn into the conflict in November after rebels seized some Saudi territory. The rebels had accused Riyadh of letting Yemen use its territory for attacks on their positions.
The conflict with the northern rebels, who complain of social, religious and economic discrimination, started in 2004, but intensified last year. Yemen also faces a secessionist movement in the south and a resurgent al Qaeda.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh replaced the governor of Saada province, the site of much of the fighting with the rebels, state media reported on Saturday without giving a reason.
The outgoing governor had publicly criticised the arrest in late January of his brother, Faris Mana, identified as a top Yemeni arms dealer, who had been placed on a “black list” of arms traders issued by the government in October.
Local councils have named governors in the past two years but the president still has the power to replace them.
The government has since also arrested another suspected arms deal and his son, accused of supplying arms to the rebels.
Meanwhile a Yemeni court sentenced the rebel leader Houthi’s brother in absentia to 15 years in jail.
Yahya al-Houthi, a parliamentarian who has been based in Germany since leaving Yemen three years ago, was convicted of supporting the rebellion.
The defence ministry’s online newspaper, September 26, said eleven Houthi rebels were killed.
Al Arabiya television quoted tribal leaders and rebels as saying the Shiite rebels killed 23 Yemeni soldiers in two attacks, including an ambush.
In southern Yemen at least one protester was killed and another wounded after security forces opened fire to disperse separatist-inspired demonstrations.