President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi complains to Antonio Guterres about UN peace envoy

Anger mounting over UN acceptance of Houthi rebels' claim to have withdrawn from Hodeidah ports

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres (R) meets with Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi at the United Nations in New York on September 27, 2018. / AFP / Don EMMERT
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Yemen's President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi has written to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to complain about his special envoy's conduct in mediating between the government and Houthi rebels.

The letter sent on Thursday, which was seen by The National, listed "violations" committed by Martin Griffiths in attempting to implement a deal reached between the government and rebels at UN-brokered talks in Sweden last year.

They includes the UN envoy's treatment of the Houthis as a de facto government and his acceptance of the rebels' unilateral withdrawal from three western ports in Hodeidah province without the presence of government observers as had been agreed.

"I can no longer tolerate the violations committed by the special envoy, which threaten prospects for a solution," Mr Hadi wrote.

Mr Griffiths told the UN Security Council last week that “the military forces of Ansar Allah have now left the three ports”, referring to the Houthis. “This will allow the UN to play a leading role in supporting the Yemen Red Sea ports in management and inspections at the ports,” he said.

A Yemeni activist who spoke to The National said Mr Griffiths' endorsement of the supposed withdrawal had caused a lot frustration and that the widespread feeling was that he simply "lied to keep the momentum going for the peace agreement he brokered".

In his letter, Mr Hadi said he was giving Mr Griffiths a final chance to prove his commitment to fully implementing the three main points of the Sweden agreement – a prisoner swap, a complete rebel withdrawal from the ports, and the withdrawal of all forces from Hodeidah city.

Government representatives will suspend their participation in the UN-chaired joint committee set up to co-ordinate the Hodeidah withdrawal until they receive the go-ahead from Mr Hadi, a spokesman for pro-government forces on the western coast told The National.

Col Wathah Al Dubaish said the president had told the UN that he will not meet Mr Griffiths until he received a written guarantee that the envoy would review his performance and not repeat his violations.

Hodeidah's deputy provincial governor, Waleed Al Qudaimi, told The National that the president's letter to the UN chief was a "clear message" that Mr Hadi would not accept the Houthis' claim that they had withdrawn from Hodeidah.

The government accuses the rebels of attempting a deception by handing over control of the ports to their loyalists disguised as members of local security forces. Yemen's parliament on Wednesday urged the government to halt negotiations with the UN until it reviewed the supposed Houthi withdrawal from Hodeidah.