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New top Yemeni official promises to work towards peace

CAIRO (AP) – The new head of Yemen’s internationally recognised government said on Friday that the council he was chosen to lead will work to end the country’s grinding, eight-year civil war.

In his first televised address, Rashad al-Alimi thanked his government’s backers which have been helping Yemeni government forces fight the Houthi rebels for years.

Al-Alimi’s speech comes as both sides trade accusations of breaking the week-old internationally brokered cease-fire that was ushered in at the start of the holy month of Ramadhan.

The truce is supposed to last two months but many similar efforts in Yemen’s conflict have floundered in the past.

On Thursday, Yemen’s exiled president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi stepped aside and transferred his powers to the presidential council lead by al-Alimi.

Homes destroyed by an airstrike in Yemen. PHOTO: AP

“This is a council of peace, but it is also a council of defence and strength,” he said.

The country’s new head of government made no mention of any compromise with the Houthis. He thanked the United Nations (UN) and United States (US) envoys to Yemen for their efforts but also praised all who attempted to “take back the country and its institutions.”

On Friday, both sides said they had documented some 80 violations of the cease-fire in just the past day, in reports published on their official media.

The United Nations’ envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg on Wednesday expressed concerns about reports of violations of the truce.

Yemen’s brutal civil war erupted in 2014, when the Houthis seized the capital of Sanaa and forced the government into exile.

A coalition entered the war in early 2015 to try restore the government to power.

The conflict has in recent years become a regional proxy war that has killed more than 150,000 people.