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The exiled Yemeni president stepped down and handed over his powers to a presidential council as international and regional efforts to end the country’s long civil war gained momentum with a two-month truce.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, major players in the conflict, appear to have played a role in Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi’s decision, welcoming him quickly with a pledge of aid of 3 billion dollars (2.3 billion pounds sterling). The head of the new council has close ties to Riyadh.

It remains to be seen whether the change will hasten an end to the bitter war, as UN-sponsored negotiations are at an impasse and fighting, airstrikes and missile attacks continued until the end of last month. . The Houthis did not immediately comment on Hadi’s announcement.

Hadi said the newly created council will lead the internationally recognized government and conduct negotiations with the Iran-backed Houthis, according to a statement carried by state media.

The move aims to unify the anti-Houthi camp after years of infighting and conflict, and was almost certainly orchestrated in Riyadh, where Yemeni factions met last week to discuss efforts to end the war. .

“With this declaration, a council of the presidency will be created to complete the implementation of the tasks of the transition period. I irreversibly delegate to the presidential leadership council my full powers,” Hadi told Yemeni state television.

Hadi also sacked Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a powerful military figure, and also delegated Ahmar’s powers to the presidential council.

The presidential council is chaired by Rashad al-Alimi, an adviser to Hadi and a former interior minister in the government of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Alimi has close ties with Saudi Arabia and other political groups inside Yemen, including the powerful Islah party – the transnational branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen.

The council has seven members, including Aidarus al-Zoubaidi, head of the Southern Secessionist Transitional Council – an umbrella group of heavily armed and well-funded militias supported by the United Arab Emirates since 2015.

Sheikh Sultan al-Aradah, the powerful governor of the energy-rich province of Marib, was also appointed as a council member. So was Tariq Saleh, a militia leader and nephew of the late president who has close ties to the United Arab Emirates.

Hadi was named Yemen’s president in 2012 with a mission to oversee a democratic transition after the Arab Spring uprising that ended Saleh’s long-serving rule.

However, the Houthis, a religious movement turned rebel militia, allied with Saleh and seized the capital Sanaa in 2014, forcing Hadi and his government into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Months later, Saudi Arabia formed a military coalition and went to war in an attempt to restore Hadi’s government to power.

The conflict has in recent years become a regional proxy war that has killed more than 150,000 people, including more than 14,500 civilians. It has also created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

Welcoming Hadi’s decision, Saudi Arabia urged the presidential council to enter into UN-led negotiations with the Houthis to find a “political, final and comprehensive” settlement to the conflict, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also met with the head of the council and its members, according to Saudi state television.

The warring parties announced a two-month ceasefire earlier this month, the first national truce in Yemen in six years.

Hadi’s announcement came as Yemeni talks convened by the Saudi-based Gulf Cooperation Council began their final day on Thursday. The Houthis have boycotted the GCC-facilitated efforts because they are taking place in Saudi Arabia, the territory of their adversary.

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