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YEMEN DECLARED TRUCE WITH SHIAA INSURGENCY

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The Yemeni authorities have declared, on Thursday 02/11/2010 evening, a ceasefire with the Saada Rebels fighting government forces in the North. The truce started at midnight local time (2100 GMT) and came after days of negotiations between the government and rebels on how to end the conflict.

The leader of the rebels, Abdul-Malik Houthi, ordered his men to abide by the truce. The rebels have been battling Yemen’s army since 2004. More than 250,000 have been displaced in the region.

The government launched its latest offensive against the rebels in 08/2009. Saudi Arabia has also been drawn into the conflict. Observers say many will question how long the declared truce may last. Yemeni officials have said that as part of a truce deal, Sanaa would allow Houthi representatives to sit on a committee overseeing the truce, and the group’s fighters would hand over weapons they seized from Yemeni and Saudi forces (see -Saada 01.21.10) .

The Yemeni government still faces two other conflicts: against Ssouthern separatists and militants sympathetic to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

News of the ceasefire came in a presidential decree read out on state television. “We decided to stop military operations in the north-west from midnight,” the decree said.

In a statement in response, rebel leader Abdul-Malik Houthi ordered his fighters to “cease combat on all fronts at the hours announced by the government”. “Once the ceasefire is consolidated, we will proceed to reopening roads and dismantling checkpoints and barricades,” the statement added.

The move comes after the rebels reportedly accepted several conditions, including a pledge not to attack Saudi Arabia, put forward by the government to end the hostilities.

Houthi rebels from the minority Shiaa Zaidi sect based in the north-western Saada district have been battling the government for more than five years..
* It is already the second truce with the Saada Rebels, in the current conflict. The first truce was declared on 09/06/2009 (see – Saada Truce).

* 36 people were killed in clashes between the Yemeni Forces and the Saada Rebels in the first 24 hours of the new truce.

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