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Peace hopes in Yemen as president hands over power to new presidential council


Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has been replaced by a newly formed presidential council in a bid to support UN efforts to end the country’s seven-year civil war.

Analysts called the announcement a “big deal” in the bitter conflict which has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The newly formed eight-member council replaces Hadi, who served as president for a decade since ousting President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012, as well as Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar.

“I irreversibly delegate to the Presidential Leadership Council my full powers in accordance with the constitution and the Gulf Initiative and its executive mechanism,” Hadi, who is based in Riyadh, said in a televised address.

Considered a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the conflict pits a Saudi-led military coalition against the Houthi rebel group, backed by Tehran. Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the start of the conflict, while millions are on the brink of starvation.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates pledged $3 billion to Yemen’s central bank following the council’s formation announcement, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.

The kingdom called on the council to start negotiations with the Iran-backed Houthis to reach a “comprehensive political solution”, SPA added. The Houthis have yet to comment on the new presidential council.

Saudi Arabia also announced $300 million for the United Nations humanitarian aid fund for Yemen and called for a conference of aid donors to support Yemen.

The council will be chaired by Major General Rashad al-Alimi, a veteran politician and former adviser to Hadi. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met al-Alimi after the announcement, Saudi state television showed.

Other members include figures backed by the United Arab Emirates, including the head of the Southern Transitional Council Aidarus Al-Zoubaidi and Abdulrahman Al-Mahrami, the commander of the Giants Brigade. Tarek Saleh, military commander and nephew of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, will sit on the board.

According to an official statement posted on the website of the Yemen talks in Riyadh, the council plans to form an advisory committee of 50 experts.

Highlighting the development, Peter Salisbury, senior Yemeni analyst for International Crisis Group, tweeted: “The news that Hadi is handing over his powers to a presidential council made up of key political and military figures with direct roles on the ground is a big deal. The most significant change in the inner workings of the anti-Houthi bloc since the start of the war. »

He added: “How it will actually work in practice will be… complicated, to say the least.”

Gregory Johnsen, a former member of the UN Panel of Experts on Yemen, said in a Twitter thread: “This is an attempt, perhaps a last ditch effort, to piece together something that looks like unity within the anti-Houthi alliance. The problem is that it is not known how these different individuals, many of whom have diametrically opposed points of view, can work together.

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