Yemen’s president renews calls for federalism to end war on anniversary of independent south

The proposal is latest in political overtures by Abdrabu Mansur Hadi aimed at finding common ground with Houthi militia

epa08036082 Young Yemenis take part in a football match during sunset at a neighborhood in Sanaa, Yemen, 30 November 2019. The nation?al league of war-ridden Yemen has been suspended since 2015 due to ongoing conflict in the Arab country but football matches are being played by young people in neighborhoods.  EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
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Yemeni President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi said the solution to the country’s civil war lies in setting up a federal system of government.

In a speech to mark Yemen’s independence from British rule, Mr Hadi said a federal state would guarantee the rights of the warring parties once the fighting stops.

He said federalism was a main plank of the 2014 National Dialogue in Sanaa upended by the Houthi takeover of the capital soon after.

“We will continue to seek a peace that uproots the causes of the war and allows us to work together for a federal state guaranteeing [the rights of] everyone,” Mr Hadi said.

He did not give details but said Yemen would need to become a united country, with one army and a central authority that preserves the democratic gains of the 2011 uprising against Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s late strongman.

“Greater Yemen is our goal and federalism is our project. Ending the coup and re-establishment of the state is our cause,” said Mr Hadi, who heads the internationally recognised government from Riyadh.

Last month, the Yemeni government and its former ally the Southern Transitional Council, signed a Saudi-brokered deal to end a standoff over those represented in the government.

The two sides reaffirmed their fight again against Al Qaeda, as well as the Iran-backed Houthi militia.

The agreement could help reactivate the push to implement the Stockholm agreement between the Houthis and the government forces agreed to last December.

The UN-brokered deal included a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeidah, the opening of a humanitarian corridor and a prisoner swap between the Houthi militias and the government.

“I call on the Houthi militia and on everyone who thinks that arms could be a solution to treat the agreements seriously and with responsibility,” Mr Hadi said. “We were forced into war by those who had waged it”.