Expressing absolute allegiance with President SalehAl-Houthi undertakes to abide by ceasefire agreement [Archives:2008/1191/Local News]

September 18 2008

By: Mohammed Bin Sallam
SA'ADA, Sept. 17 ) Houthis' field leader Abdulmalik Badraddin Al-Houthi has undertaken to abide by terms of the Doha-brokered ceasefire agreement he signed with the government last February, as well as another agreement he reached with President Ali Abdullah Saleh to restore peace and security to Sa'ada governorate, media sources said.

The same sources quoted mediation committee member Faris Mana'a as saying that Al-Houthi informed a governmental committee, mandated to restore security and stability in the war-ravaged governorate, about his absolute allegiance with President Saleh, his and his followers' commitment to respect the Constitution, laws and the republican system and his readiness to implement any steps to end aspects of the war.

Al-Houthi has committed to order his followers to abandon mountaintop positions, farmlands, and public and private facilities according to a plan set by a local committee, which is formed from senior tribal leaders of Sa'ada.

According to the sources, the local committee's plan has taken an important step toward ending the war and forcing Houthi gunmen to abandon strategic positions they were taking over during their confrontations with army personnel.

The sources went on to say that Houthi gunmen also evicted schools, other government facilities, homes and farmlands, which they had been seizing control of during their fight against the army in Saqain, Haidan, Dhahian and other areas. They also abandoned their mountaintop positions as part of an effort to ensure safety of roads and reinforce law and order throughout the governorate.

The media sources indicated that Houthis' commitment to enhance peace and end the war was warmly welcomed by the government and Sa'ada local authority. As a result, nearly 100 thousand displaced residents could return home and go to their farmlands.

Chaired by Minister of Local Administration Abdulqader Ali Hilal, Sa'ada Reconstruction Committee continues assessing war-related damage and facilitating citizens' access to basic services, as well as approving compensations for those whose property was damaged during the fighting.

In its recent report, the Sa'ada Reconstruction Committee indicated that nearly 7 thousand public and private facilities were damaged during the fighting while the government has allocated YR 10 billion to begin implementing the reconstruction projects with funds coming from Gulf and foreign states via Sa'ada Reconstruction Fund.

Al-Houthi ready to lay down arms

According to the sources, Al-Houthi confirmed to the local committee that he is ready to lay down arms and heavy equipment, and release war prisoners, among them soldiers and pro-government tribesmen, who were detained by his gunmen during the war.

Sa'ada local authority began last week appointing new directors for districts that have been used as battlegrounds by both the army and Houthis. These districts include Saqain, Haidan and Mennabih.

Indicators of a sixth war in Sa'ada were on the rise over the past days and this potential war may break out after the holy month of Ramadan, particularly after senior government officials accused Houthis of breaching the Doha-brokered peace deal and refusing to abandon their mountaintop positions. Houthis, in turn, accused the government of violating the deal.

On a side note, other media sources reported Tuesday that a member of the Mine Clearing Committee operating in Sa'ada was hurt in a mine explosion during his search for mines in Haidan district. The 24-year-old soldier, whose left leg was severed, has been working with a team of technicians, mandated to search for and clear anti-personnel mines, which the army planted during its fight against Houthis in the Haidan district.

Three other victims, aged between 17 and 25 years, faced various injuries as a hand grenade exploded in the Sihar district. According to the Security Information Center's website in the Interior Ministry the grenade blew up as a result of being mishandled by the victims, who were immediately transferred to the Sihar district's hospital for treatment.

Last month, Houthis complained that anti-personnel mines killed up to 100 goatherds, mostly women and injured another hundred, adding that they cleared four anti-personnel mines in their areas. They also asked military leaders to provide them with maps on mine spots so that their women and children can avoid passing over them.