Yemen government, STC to withdraw forces from Aden

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden


Members of Yemen's Southern Transitional Council secure an area in Aden on December 9th. [Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP]

Yemen's government announced it has signed a deal with the Southern Transitional Council (STC) for both sides to withdraw forces from Aden within three weeks, as stipulated by the Riyadh agreement.

President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi will also appoint a governor and security chief for Aden.

Former Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr said in a statement Thursday (January 9th) that representatives of the legitimate government and the STC agreed on a series of mutual withdrawal of forces as part of the implementation of the Riyadh agreement, which was signed on November 5th.

He described the signing of the deal as "another step towards stability".

"The aim is to avert any return to the use of military force," he said, adding that a deadline of 20 days, beginning from January 11th, has been set to implement troop withdrawals on both sides.

The agreement also calls for the collection of all heavy and medium weapons from Aden under the coalition's direct supervision, he said.

All military units will evacuate Aden to the battlefronts, he said, and they will be replaced by security forces affiliated with the ministry of interior.

Additionally, President Hadi will start consultations on the formation of a national unity government, as per the Riyadh agreement and its political annex, he said.

"There will be no talk about backing down on what was signed today," said bin Daghr. "We have to lay new foundations for co-existence among all Yemenis in Aden."

Both sides also agreed to swap prisoners captured during clashes in Aden last August as part of joint efforts to defuse tensions.

"Today, 35 prisoners from both sides will return to their families," he said, adding that the government will instruct the public prosecutor to open investigations into the cases of missing persons.

Completing first phase of Riyadh agreement

"One indication of the successful implementation of the military aspect of the Riyadh agreement is to abide by the new deadline and begin implementation on the ground," deputy Aden governor Ghassan al-Zamki told Al-Mashareq.

The implementation of the military aspect is the first phase of the Riyadh Agreement, which had originally been slated for completion within 15 days, said political analyst Faisal Ahmed.

"It includes the withdrawal of forces from Aden, Abyan and Shabwa and their return to their former positions," he said, in addition to the removal of heavy and medium weapons from Aden to a location selected by the coalition.

Next, consultations should start between the two sides on forming a national unity government of 24 ministers equally divided between the north and the south, he said.

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