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Yemen swears in new presidential council

SANAA, YEMEN (AP) – Yemen’s internationally recognised presidential council was sworn in on Tuesday in the southern port city of Aden, state-run media reported.

The swearing-in took place before the Parliament in a ceremony attended by foreign ambassadors and the United States (US) and United Nations (UN) envoys to Yemen, SABA news agency said.

Aden serves as the interim seat of the internationally recognised government since the Houthi rebels seized the capital of Sanaa in 2014, setting off Yemen’s long-running civil war.

The presidential council was appointed earlier this month after former President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi stepped aside.

Hadi transferred his powers and those of his vice president to the council, which will run the country and lead peace talks with the Houthis.

Hadi’s move came during concerted international and regional efforts to end the conflict.

The move angered the Houthis as it was meant to unify the anti-Houthi camp after years of infighting and disputes.

Rashad al-Alimi, who leads the new council. PHOTO: AP

It came as the Houthis and the government embarked on a 60-day truce brokered by the UN earlier this month.

The council is chaired by Rashad al-Alimi, an adviser to Hadi and former interior minister with the government of late Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Al-Alimi called on the international community to pressure the Houthis to engage in peace efforts because he said the rebels were still attacking the central city of Marib and other government-held areas despite the truce. The council is committed to “end the (Houthi) coup and the war” and establish “fair and permeant peace that preserves the state and its constitutional institutions”, he said.

Parliament Speaker Sultan al-Borkani echoed the same message. However, he warned that they were also ready to continue fighting.

“This is our opportunity to take the road of fair and honourable peace,” he said.

“Our hands are still extended (for peace), and our weapons are ready at the same time.”

The council has seven other members, including head of the Southern Transitional Council Aydarous al-Zubaidi.

Also on the council are governor of the energy-rich Marib province Sheikh Sultan al-Aradah and nephew of the late president Tariq Saleh.

Another member is commander of the Giants Brigades Abdel-Rahman Abu Zarah which played a crucial role recently in repelling the Houthi offensive on Marib.

The war killed over 150,000 people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine.