Yemen’s southern separatists have struck a power-sharing deal with the internationally recognized government aimed at ending a conflict simmering within the country’s long-running civil war, sources on both sides said Friday, October 25.
A government official told AFP the agreement will be signed in Riyadh in coming days, with both President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and secessionist leader Aidarous al-Zoubeidi expected to be present.
The deal would see the secessionist Southern Transitional Council handed a number of ministries, and the government return to the southern city of Aden, according to official sources and reports in Saudi media.
In August, the Security Belt Forces, dominated by the STC, took control of Aden, which has served as the beleaguered government’s base since it was ousted from the capital Sana’a by Houthi rebels in 2014.
The clashes between separatists and government forces – who for years fought on the same side against the Iran-backed Houthis – had raised fears that the country could break apart entirely.
The warring factions have in recent weeks been holding indirect and discreet talks mediated by Saudi Arabia in the kingdom’s western city of Jeddah.
An STC official currently in Riyadh told AFP that the deal had been agreed and he hoped the government would add their signature soon.
“We signed the final draft of the agreement and are waiting for the joint signature within days,” he said, adding that both Hadi and al-Zoubeidi are expected to attend a ceremony in Riyadh.
A Yemeni government official, declining to be named, confirmed the deal had been agreed and would be signed within days.
It sets out “the reformation of the government, with the STC included in a number of ministries, and the return of the government to Aden within seven days after the agreement being signed,” he told AFP.
Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ekhbariya state television said a government of 24 ministers would be formed, “divided equally between the southern and northern governorates of Yemen.”
Under the deal, the Yemeni prime minister would return to Aden to “reactivate state institutions,” it added.
Al-Ekhbariya said the Saudi-led military coalition which has intervened on the government’s side against the Houthis would oversee a “joint committee” to implement the agreement.
With reporting from AFP