Middle East

Yemen talks with Shiite rebels 'fail': president's envoy

Followers of the Shiite Houthi movement sit at an anti-government protest camp in Sanaa August 23, 2014. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)

SANAA: Talks with Shiite rebels, who have set up armed protest camps in the Yemeni capital, have "failed" after they rejected a proposed government of technocrats, the president's negotiating team said Sunday.

The rebels "rejected all the proposals presented to them," the team's spokesman Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi said.

"Negotiations in Saada have failed," he said, referring to the rebels' stronghold in the mountains of the far north.

"It seems like the Huthis have intentions for a war," he added, referring to the Zaidi Shiite rebels who have been fighting government troops in the northern mountains on and off since 2004.

The envoys of President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi had been holding talks with rebel commander Abdul-Malik al-Houthi in Saada since Thursday in a bid to persuade him to abandon the protests organised by his supporters in a bid to oust the current government and reverse fuel price increases.

Tens of thousands of armed rebels have set up fortified protest camps around the capital over the past week, to press their demands.

Authorities have stepped up security around the Interior Ministry, just 100 meters from one of the camps.

Analysts say that the rebels are seeking to establish themselves as the dominant force in Yemen's northern highlands and win a bigger share of power in a future federal government.

The Zaidi Shiites, a minority in mainly Sunni Yemen, form the majority in the northern highlands, including the Sanaa region.

Their protest action has raised fears of new violence in Yemen, which already faces an Al-Qaeda insurgency and a campaign for renewed independence for the south.

The impoverished country has been locked in a protracted transition since long-time strongman was forced from power in February 2012 after a deadly 11-month uprising.

Plans for a six-region federation have been rejected by both the Houthis and the southern separatists.





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