UN envoy moves to revive Yemen talks

Griffiths said on September 11, 2018, he will seek to revive talks between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi militias after a first bid for negotiations on ending the war failed to get off the ground. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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UN envoy moves to revive Yemen talks

  • Meetings aimed at preparing formal peace talks were to begin last week in Geneva but the Houthis refused to leave Sanaa until a series of demands were met
  • It was the first UN bid to convene talks between the warring sides since 2016

UNITED NATIONS, United States: The UN envoy for Yemen said Tuesday he will seek to revive talks between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi militias after a first bid for negotiations on ending the war failed to get off the ground.
Meetings aimed at preparing formal peace talks were to begin last week in Geneva but the Houthis refused to leave Sanaa to attend the consultations until a series of demands were met.
UN envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council he will be traveling to Muscat on Wednesday and later Sanaa and Riyadh to secure “a firm commitment from the parties to convene for continued consultations.”
The Houthis failed to turn up at the talks in Geneva over demands linked to the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman and safe passage for the return of the rebel delegation to Sanaa.
The Yemen peace process will have “ups and downs,” Griffiths told a council meeting, downplaying the setback as “temporary obstacles.”
He asked the council to support his new shuttle diplomacy to “move back to the table with all speed.”
It was the first UN bid to convene talks between the warring sides since 2016.
The war in impoverished Yemen has killed 10,000 people and unleashed what the United Nations describes as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Houthi militias in Yemen since 2015 to drive them out of the capital Sanaa and return President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to power.


Dozens arrested in protests against fifth term for Algeria president

Updated 28 min 28 sec ago
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Dozens arrested in protests against fifth term for Algeria president

ALGIERS: Security forces arrested 41 people during angry protests that rocked Algeria's capital against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika seeking a fifth term, authorities said Saturday.
Police fired tear gas on Friday to block a protest march on the presidential palace, prompting demonstrators to respond with stone-throwing.
The Directorate General for National Security (DGSN) said Saturday it had detained 41 people over "public disorder, vandalism, damage to property, violence and assault".
Despite the arrests, protests around the country were largely tolerated by authorities, even in the capital, where demonstrations have been strictly banned since 2001.
The police did not give an estimate of the number of protesters, but a security official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP some 20,000 people had demonstrated nationwide, around a quarter of them in Algiers.
The official said 38 of the arrests were in the capital, and that no security personnel had been wounded.
Some demonstrators in Algiers scaled the outside of a building and tore down a poster bearing the portrait of Bouteflika, the country's 81-year-old president.
French-language daily El Watan said crowds also gathered in the city of Ouargla where "thousands of demonstrators chanted 'the people want the fall of the regime'," the slogan of the Arab Spring revolts of 2011.
Activists had used social media to call for nationwide protests against Bouteflika after Friday's weekly Muslim prayers.
Analysts on Saturday played up the scope of the demonstrations in several cities as unprecedented as well as the absence of any serious incidents.
"At the national level and with this size, taking place simultaneously and with the new use of social media, I think it's a first," said Louisa Dris-Ait Hamadouche, a professor of political science at Algiers University.
A foreign diplomat posted in Algiers, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the scale of the demonstrations in defiance of the ban signalled "a change in the political order".
Dris-Ait Hamadouche praised both the demonstrators and the security forces for their apparent restraint.
"Algerians have shown that they can demonstrate without turning it into a riot," she said. As for police, "they were no doubt given instructions to avoid any escalation".
The authorities must have wanted "to avoid any spillover that could damage Algeria's image as a stable state", she said.
Bouteflika, who uses a wheelchair and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, announced on February 10 that he will run for another term in an April presidential election.
He spoke of an "unwavering desire to serve" despite his health constraints and pledged to set up an "inclusive national conference" to address political and economic reforms.
The president's office has announced that Bouteflika will travel to Switzerland on Sunday for "routine medical checks" ahead of the April 18 election.
He has had a long battle with illness and has frequently flown to France for treatment.
Bouteflika is Algeria's longest-serving president and a veteran of its independence struggle, who has clung to power since 1999 despite his ill health.
When the Arab Spring erupted in January 2011, Bouteflika rode out the storm by lifting a 19-year state of emergency and using oil revenues to grant pay rises.