Yemen PM rejects rebel-proposed unity govt

Riyadh—Yemen’s Prime Minister Ahmed bin Dagher on Wednesday rejected a unity government proposed by Iran-backed rebels whom he accused of bringing the country’s economy to the brink of collapse.
At the start of a cabinet meeting in the Saudi capital, Bin Dagher emphasised that the rebels should surrender their weapons and withdraw from seized territory in accordance with a United Nations Security Council resolution adopted in April last year.
The Huthi rebels and their allies overran the capital Sanaa in September 2014 and went on to seize control of several regions, forcing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia formed a regional coalition that began air strikes against the rebels in March last year and later sent in ground forces to support Hadi’s government.
“The retreat (of the rebels) from state institutions is non-negotiable,” the premier said.
The meeting was held inside a Saudi government hall where Dagher read from a statement with cabinet ministers seated at a long table in front of him.
At UN-brokered peace talks which began on April 21 in Kuwait, the rebels made a transitional government of consensus a precondition for applying Security Council Resolution 2216.
But the prime minister attacked “those who want a national unity government before handing over the weapons”.
He added that the country is “in a terrible state of economic and monetary collapse” after the rebels spent $3 billion, almost the entire monetary reserves of Yemen, “in their war efforts”.
He said the rebels also arranged to print more money, leading to a collapse in the value of the rial and a spike in prices.
Residents say fruit and vegetables have risen in price by at least 20 percent in recent days, while essentials like flour are up by more than 30 percent.
On Tuesday, Yemen’s government threatened to quit the peace talks.
Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, on Wednesday called on the two sides to continue negotiating to “reach positive results”, the official KUNA news agency reported.
Fighting has killed more than 6,400 people, displaced about 2.8 million and left 82 percent of Yemen’s population in need of aid, the UN says.—AFP

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