UN considers retired Indian general to lead Hodeidah efforts

Truce in Red Sea port was main achievement of peace talks in Sweden last year

The officer would be tasked with overseeing the ceasefire agreement in Hodeidah. EPA
The officer would be tasked with overseeing the ceasefire agreement in Hodeidah. EPA

The UN is considering Abhijit Guha, a retired lieutenant general from the Indian Army, to be the next leader of the UN observer mission in Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

Mr Guha was formerly a deputy military adviser to the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and has also served on international panels related to peacekeeping.

If appointed, he will succeed Lt Gen Michael Lollesgaard of Denmark, and become the third official charged with leading UN monitoring of a ceasefire agreement in Hodeidah.

The truce, which does not apply to the rest of the country, went into effect last December after peace talks in Sweden between Yemen's government and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who have been fighting each other since 2015.

But the ceasefire stumbled after repeated breaches by the Houthis.

A UN source told The National that Lt Gen Lollesgaard had already left his post because his contract had ended.

He led a Redeployment Co-ordination Committee set up to bring the ceasefire into effect, having taken over at the start of February from Patrick Cammaert, a retired major general from The Netherlands.

Mr Cammaert faced repeated setbacks as the UN tried to get government forces and the rebels to agree on a withdrawal of forces in and around Hodeidah.

A second source said Mr Guha was among several military officers who have been under consideration in recent weeks as a replacement head of the Hodeidah mission.

If appointed, he would work with the UN's special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, who leads the peace effort.

Before Mr Guha can be formally appointed, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres must put his name forward to members of the UN Security Council, who have 48 hours to raise any objections.

A council source late on Tuesday told The National that no name had yet been sent by Mr Guterres for endorsement.

A spokesman for Mr Guterres declined to comment when asked if Mr Guha's appointment was expected to go through.

Updated: September 4, 2019 09:28 AM


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