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Yemen mediators work to consolidate Sana’a truce

Tribal mediators on Saturday worked to consolidate a truce between a powerful opposition tribal chief and forces loyal to Yemen’s embattled president, a close aide to the chief said.

“The mediators are continuing their efforts, but they have run into difficulties,” said Abdul Qawi al-Qaisi, who heads the office of tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar.

The chief heads the powerful Hashid federation whose supporters fought security forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a this week.

Ahmar said on Friday that a truce was in effect in the capital, but Qaisi said shells had landed that night near Ahmar’s residence in Al-Hasaba area, where the clashes that left dozens dead were centred.

The government is demanding Ahmar’s forces relinquish public buildings they control, including the ministry of industry and trade, the ministry of tourism, the official Saba news agency, and the Higher Institute for Guidance, Qaisi said.

“In return, we demand the withdrawal of armed regime militiamen from residential buildings in which they are barricaded near Sheikh al-Ahmar’s residence,” he said.

Asked how long the truce would last, Qaisi said it would be “open, without a time-limit”.

Ahmar in March pledged his support for anti-regime demonstrators who have since January been calling for Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, to quit office.

Clashes between Ahmar’s supporters and security forces broke out on Monday, a day after Saleh refused to sign a Gulf-brokered accord that would have seen him cede power within 30 days.

Meanwhile, a security official told Agence France-Presse three Frenchmen working in Yemen were reported missing on Saturday in Hadramawt in the country’s south-east. — AFP

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