Yemen: demilitarisation of south will guarantee Riyadh deal's success, officials say

Southern Transitional Council has abandoned self-rule declaration to support peace deal

Members of Yemen’s separatist Southern Transitional Council staff a checkpoint while workers disinfect vehicles at the entrance of Mualla, a district of the southern province of Aden, on May 10, 2020. AFP
Members of Yemen’s separatist Southern Transitional Council staff a checkpoint while workers disinfect vehicles at the entrance of Mualla, a district of the southern province of Aden, on May 10, 2020. AFP

A successful implementation of the Riyadh Agreement will depend on military arrangements between Yemen’s government and southern secessionists, government officials told The National on Wednesday.

The Riyadh Agreement is based on a power-sharing deal between Yemen’s Southern Transitional Council and the government.

The STC declared its self-rule over the south this year but late on Tuesday said it would abandon the idea and pledged to implement the Saudi-brokered deal.

The agreement will give the STC representation in a new Yemeni government to be formed within 30 days.

“The problem is not with the government formation or political concessions, but it will be about the military and security situation on the ground,” Hamza Al Kamali, Yemen’s deputy minister for youth, told The National.

Talks between the two sides are continuing and Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi was given confirmation that they would reach a security arrangement, Mr Al Kamali said.

“The President has currently put the government formation process on hold until the security and military situation are established,” he said.

These include securing an end to the fighting in the southern city of Aden, the interim seat of the government, and the governorate of Abyan.

The deal was thrown into disarray this year as disagreements between the two sides led to STC fighters seizing control of Aden and clashes breaking out across southern Yemen.

Mr Hadi’s administration is set to secure the main four Cabinet seats, which are interior, defence, foreign affairs and finance.

Four of the 24 ministries will be given to the STC and other southern factions will have a role to play in them.

The STC must now start to move its forces outside of Aden, said Yemen's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Marwan Noman.

"The main challenge I think would be the real and sincere intentions of STC to rightly and swiftly implement the agreement," Mr Noman said.

"People in Aden deserve no less than security, stability and services.

"It's time now to turn the page and unite forces to address the Houthi challenge."

Abdullah Al Alimi, an adviser to Mr Hadi, said it would take great courage from both sides to realise the Riyadh Agreement.

“We need to be thinking about the public concerns, the people need a functioning state and government, system, law and partnership, and these alone are the ones that will provide security, justice and freedom,” Mr Al Alimi said.

Baraa Shiban, a Yemeni political consultant, said: “The main challenge would be the demilitarisation process.

"If any progress is made this will effectively mean that we would have an inclusive government to redefine itself both locally and internationally."

The international community has put extensive pressure on authorities in Yemen to end the conflict.

“Having a new government will mean a new opportunity for the Yemeni government and people to have new faces representing them locally and internationally," Mr Shiban said.

"It gives hope to the public that things are moving forward."

He said it was important for Yemen that the agreement broke the stalemate between political factions and helped to undo unilateral actions from the past.

Updated: July 30, 2020 02:46 AM

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