Yemen president urges unity in visit to restive north

Photo: Yemen president urges unity in visit to restive north
 / Arab World

Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi called Wednesday for unity during a visit to the northern city of Amran, briefly seized by Shiite rebels in clashes with government forces and loyal tribes, AFP reported.

The capture on July 2 of Amran, just 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of Sanaa, by Huthi rebels threatened a federalization plan that was agreed in February following national talks as part of a political transition.

The Huthis, also known as Ansarullah, pulled out few days later after reaching an agreement with the authorities, allowing government forces into the city.

"We have to turn a new page and realize that the age of conflicts and wars is over. Our homeland has suffered enough trouble over the past five decades," Hadi said, addressing officials at the government complex in the city.

He called for "more cohesion and unity ... and to raise awareness of the danger of regional, sectarian and factious conflicts," according to Saba state news agency.

The Huthis' capture of the city was seen as part of a plan to push towards the capital and posed a challenge to the government which is also facing an al-Qaida threat and a separatist movement in the south.

Huthis, who have been battling the central government for years, are suspected of trying to expand their sphere of influence as Yemen is reorganized into six regions.

They have repeatedly complained of marginalization under former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled for 33 years before being forced out in February 2012.

He was replaced by Hadi, his long-time deputy, under a U.N.- and Gulf-sponsored deal.

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