UN envoy: Yemen ceasefire deal imminent

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed says he hopes to announce a ceasefire in the conflict in the next few days.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

People gather at the site of a Saudi-led air strike on an oil tanker truck near the northwestern city of Saada, Yemen on October 8, 2016.

The United Nations' envoy for Yemen said that he hoped to announce a ceasefire in the conflict in the next few days.

The announcement came after meeting with Houthi forces in Oman this weekend.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, speaking to Oman's state news agency ONA, said Houthi representatives and their allies had said a ceasefire was necessary.

But he added he had yet to meet with exiled Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to discuss the matter.

United Nations envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

"They were long and positive meetings, which make me optimistic.

They have agreed during them to accept a ceasefire for 72 hours in Yemen which could be extended," he told ONA.

Boys stand by a hole caused by a Saudi-led air strike on the roof of their school last year, as schools open this week in Sanaa, the capital of war-torn Yemen October 5, 2016.

He would also be meeting with President Hadi in Saudi Arabia.

Hadi's internationally-recognised government, which is supported by an alliance of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia, is battling the Houthis who took over the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014.

The Houthis toughened demands this week for the resumption of peace talks to end the 19-month-old civil war, saying Hadi must go and an agreement must be reached on the presidency, complicating United Nations efforts to bring the parties back to talks.

Boys play in an oil tanker truck, a day after it was hit by a Saudi-led air strike near the northwester city of Saada, Yemen October 8, 2016.

A shaky ceasefire between the government and the Iran-aligned Houthis, took effect in April and brought some respite from the war, which started when the rebels pushed the government into exile in March 2015.

Peace talks broke down in August, though, and Saudi-led air strikes on the Houthis have resumed.

Separately, a Yemeni man was killed and two others, including a child, were wounded in Saudi Arabia's southern Jizan province by a shell fired by Houthi forces from inside Yemen.