UN special envoy awaits Houthis at Yemen peace talks in Geneva

The Houthi delegation failed in Geneva to arrive following a series of last-minute demands. (Reuters)
Updated 07 September 2018
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UN special envoy awaits Houthis at Yemen peace talks in Geneva

  • UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths is still working on getting the Ansarullah delegation to Geneva
  • The UN wants the government and the Houthi movement to work toward a deal to end the war

GENEVA: The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths has discussed issues including prisoners, humanitarian access and the reopening of Sanaa airport with Yemen’s Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani, a UN spokeswoman said on Friday.
But Griffiths, who began consultations with the Yemen government delegation in Geneva on Thursday, still awaits representatives of the Iranian-allied Houthi movement from the capital Sanaa, UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said.
“He is still working on getting the Ansarullah delegation to Geneva,” she said.
“Since yesterday (Thursday) he has been discussing with them confidence-building measures, including the issue of prisoners, humanitarian access, the re-opening of Sanaaa airport, in addition to economic issues,” she said.

The Houthi delegation rejected an offer to be transported by an Omani plane Friday after it was searched by the Saudi-led coalition.

The Yemeni government's delegation announced Friday that it will stay in Geneva regardless of whether the Houthis arrived or not. 

Meanwhile, Washington's ambassador to Yemen said Friday that the Geneva consultations will resume within two weeks if they do not start on Saturday. 
The United Nations announced on Thursday that Griffiths was not expected to hold any talks at its Geneva offices on Friday.
Two sources in the government delegation told Reuters on Thursday they had given the international envoy additional time to noon on Friday to persuade the Houthis to come to Geneva.
A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s war against the Iranian-allied Houthis in 2015 to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognized government. Subsequent peace talks flopped.
Since then the humanitarian situation has worsened sharply, putting 8.4 million people on the brink of starvation and ruining the weak economy.
The United Nations wants the government and the Houthi movement to work toward a deal to end the war, remove foreign forces from Yemen and establish a national unity government.
The Houthis’ Al-Masirah TV reported on Wednesday that the coalition had prevented their delegation from flying from Sanaa to Geneva. The Houthis have accused the United Nations of not keeping a promise to transport wounded on the flight.
Hamza Al-Kamali, Yemeni deputy minister for youth, told reporters in Geneva on Thursday the flight clearance had been given three days earlier.


Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

Updated 22 September 2018
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Egypt court upholds corruption conviction of Mubarak, sons

  • Saturday’s ruling by the Court of Cessation dashed any hope that Gamal Mubarak could run for public office.
  • Mubarak’s two sons are currently on trial for insider trading.

CAIRO: Egypt's highest appeals court on Saturday rejected a motion by former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to overturn their conviction on corruption charges.
The ruling by the Court of Cessation, Egypt's final recourse for appeals in criminal cases, dashed any hope that Gamal, Mubarak's younger son and one-time heir apparent, could run for public office. A senior newspaper editor and confidant of Egypt's current president had recently suggested that banker-turned-politician Gamal may have been contemplating the move.
The Mubarak trio was sentenced to three years each for embezzling funds meant for maintenance of presidential palaces but which they spent on upgrading or building private residences. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while their father was freed last year. They repaid the funds, a total of 125 million pounds (about $7 million).
Mubarak's sons are currently on trial for insider trading. They are free on bail after a judge on Thursday overturned a surprise Sept. 15 ruling to detain them. The case's next hearing is on Oct. 20.
The rejection of their appeal Saturday and Gamal Mubarak's subsequent ineligibility to run for office came in the wake of recent comments by the chief editor of state-run Al-Akhbar publications, Yasser Rizq, who suggested that frequent public appearances by the younger Mubarak could be a prelude to a future presidential run.
Rizq first warned Gamal Mubarak against harboring presidential ambitions in an article published in May. He repeated the warning in a television interview aired earlier this week.
"His real crime is insulting the dignity of the Egyptian people," Rizq said, alluding to Gamal's one-time intention to succeed his father. It violated the constitution and amounted to the toppling of republican rule, he explained. He said it was not improbable that he would strike a political deal with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to secure the group's return to politics in exchange for its support in a presidential bid in 2022, when President Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi's second term ends.
Preventing Gamal from succeeding his father was among the main drivers of a 2011 uprising that ended Mubarak's 29-year rule, as well as the military's support for it. The years that followed saw Mubarak regime heavyweights tried on corruption or abuse of power charges. Most have since walked free, while second-string regime loyalists found their way back to public life under El-Sissi.