Yemen’s Houthis fighters Ansarullah frees prisoners to assist talks

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has released a number of high-profile prisoners in a bid to help resolve the long drawn-out conflict gripping the country.

The United Nations said Thursday that Houthis had freed a key former minister and a number of other inmates to bolster UN-sponsored peace talks.

Former Technical Education Minister Abdul Razak Ashwal as well as four others have been released, UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said at a press conference in the capital Sana’a.

The Houthis took control of Sana’a in September 2014 after their demands for more of a say in the political system was ignored by the government of then president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Hadi then sought refuge in the southern port city of Aden before fleeing to Saudi Arabia. Riyadh launched a military aggression against Yemen in March 2015 to reinstate Hadi. The attacks have left more than 7,500 Yemenis dead.

Last month, the warring sides in Yemen agreed during talks in Switzerland on a broad framework to end the aggression, but a mutually agreed truce was repeatedly violated and eventually declared over by Saudi Arabia.

Fresh negotiations set for January 14 were delayed and the UN has yet to reschedule new talks.

The Houthis say Hadi and Saudi Arabia used the previous round of negotiations as a cover to make more military gains.


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