Accord reached on Sanaa truce
SANAA - Tribal mediators on Saturday reached an accord between a powerful opposition tribal chief and forces loyal to Yemen's embattled president over withdrawal of armed men from a Sanaa district, a close aide to the chief said.
According to the agreement which comes into effect from Sunday at 0530 GMT, supporters of the tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar "will withdraw from public buildings they control" in Sanaa, one of the mediators said.
Ahmar heads the powerful Hashid federation whose supporters fought security forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa this week.
"The agreement states to end all forms of military presence" in Al-Hasaba, the northern neighbourhood of Sanaa, and "normalise the situation in this neighbourhood," another mediator said.
The agreement was mediated after a truce came into effect on Friday in the bloody fighting between Ahmar's forces and troops loyal to Saleh, which left 68 dead.
Earlier on Saturday, Abdul Qawi al-Qaisi, who heads Ahmar's office, said that the mediation was continuing despite difficulties.
"We are anxious to end the clashes in which the victims are our brothers and compatriots, but we doubt the attitude of President Saleh, who is known for his volte-face as was the case when he refused to sign the agreement on the transition of power," he said.
Clashes between Ahmar's supporters and security forces erupted on Monday, a day after Saleh refused to sign a Gulf-brokered accord that would have seen him cede power within 30 days.
Ahmar himself said on Friday that a truce was in effect in the capital, but Qaisi said shells had hit that night near Ahmar's residence in Al-Hasaba, where the clashes that left dozens dead were centred.
The government was demanding Ahmar's forces relinquish public buildings they control, including the ministry of industry and trade, the tourism ministry, 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," said Qaisi.
Asked how long the truce would last, Qaisi had 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.