Houthis have ‘killed the Stockholm Agreement’: Yemeni official

The Houthis have “killed the Stockholm Agreement” that they signed with the Yemeni government in Sweden last December, the Yemeni army’s spokesman Brig. Abdo Abdullah Majali said Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2019

Houthis have ‘killed the Stockholm Agreement’: Yemeni official

LONDON: The Houthis have “killed the Stockholm Agreement” that they signed with the Yemeni government in Sweden last December, the Yemeni army’s spokesman Brig. Abdo Abdullah Majali said Wednesday.
Majali added that the Houthis have failed to uphold clauses regarding the withdrawal of troops from Hodeidah, and that anything “taken from the Yemeni government will be recovered by force.”
The army spokesman then asked how it was possible to trust the Houthis when they are “carrying out acts of aggression against the Yemeni people, and continuously targeting Yemeni army positions.”
The Yemeni army “maintains its right to respond” to violations committed by the Houthis who “do not understand the language of dialogue,” Majali told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The Stockholm Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and the Houthis in December last year. The main components of the agreement are a prisoner exchange, steps toward a cease-fire in the city of Taiz, and a cease-fire agreement on the city of Hodeidah and the ports of Hodeidah, Salif and Ras Issa.
The governments of Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have accused the Houthis of breaking the cease-fire in Yemen’s key port of Hodeidah and refusing to withdraw their forces in accordance with the Stockholm Agreement.
The ambassadors from the three countries urged the UN Security Council in a letter circulated Tuesday to call on the Houthis to implement the agreement and to condemn their continuing violations of the cease-fire.
Meanwhile, the United Nations announced its Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths was holding intensive talks with the warring parties in the Yemeni conflict in an effort to implement the Stockholm Agreement, revive hope of redeployment from Hodeidah and open humanitarian corridors.
Griffiths met Yemen’s Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmar and Foreign Minister Khalid Al-Yamani in Riyadh on Tuesday, and was due to meet Houthi leaders in Sanaa.


Lebanon’s Aoun vows to tend to economic, financial reforms

Updated 15 min 5 sec ago

Lebanon’s Aoun vows to tend to economic, financial reforms

  • Aoun said this aimed “to guarantee political stability in cabinet and outside it and to secure the greatest amount of productivity”
  • He expected “the implementation path” to begin “with the start of October"

BEIRUT: Lebanon is expected to begin implementing in October a set of economic and financial measures agreed by its top leadership that will boost economic growth, President Michel Aoun said on Sunday, vowing that he would to tend to this himself.
He was referring to decisions taken at a top-level meeting earlier this month with the aim of reviving an economy that has been growing slowly for years and is struggling with one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
After the Aug. 9 meeting, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said agreed steps included finishing the 2020 budget on time, drawing up a plan to start $3.3 billion of projects approved by parliament, full implementation of a power sector reform plan, and laws to fight tax evasion and regulate public tenders.
“I will personally tend to the implementation path of the decisions of the financial and economic meeting” in cooperation with Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and other parties in government, Aoun said.
In written comments to Reuters, Aoun said this aimed “to guarantee political stability in cabinet and outside it and to secure the greatest amount of productivity,” including in the implementation of the 2019 budget and its reforms.
Aoun said he expected “the implementation path” to begin “with the start of October after the conclusion of the current preparations ... which will lead to lifting of the growth rates, reflecting positively on the economic and financial situations.”
After years of backsliding on economic reform, the impetus to act has grown due to economic stagnation and a slowdown in the flow of dollars into Lebanon’s banks from abroad. Lebanon has depended on such flows from its diaspora to finance the current account and the state budget deficits.
Foreign governments and donor institutions last year pledged $11 billion in financing to Lebanon for major infrastructure at the so-called Cedre conference in Paris, on condition that it carries out reforms.
Measures to reduce the budget deficit and reform the power sector, which bleeds public funds while inflicting daily power cuts on Lebanese, are seen as two vital tests of the government’s ability to reform.
The International Monetary Fund said in July this year’s deficit is likely to be well above a targeted 7.6% of national output.
It said the power reform plan and a budget to reduce the deficit were “very welcome first steps” and “further substantial fiscal adjustment and structural reforms” were needed.
Aoun said work was underway to approve the 2020 budget in the constitutional timeframe.
It would include “new, resolute reforms” agreed at the Aug. 9 meeting to reduce the power sector deficit, improve tax collection and fight customs and tax evasion.
Aoun also said frameworks must be put in place for implementing a plan drawn up by management consulting firm McKinsey for revamping the economy and this should coincide with the start of projects outlined at the Cedre conference.