Yemen crisis: President ‘reaches deal’ with rebels

YEMEN’S embattled president has reached a peace deal with Shia Houthi rebels occupying key points in the capital Sanaa, reports say.
President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s office said major concessions had been offered to the rebels, who took over his palace and surrounded his home.
They will play a bigger political role while a new constitution they opposed may be amended, the office said.
The rebels are expected to release Mr Hadi’s chief of staff in return.
There was no immediate confirmation of the deal from the rebels.
According to some accounts, the president has been a captive in his own home, BBC Middle East analyst Sebastian Usher says.
He remains nominally in charge but the Houthis are in control, our analyst adds.
The rebels have denied trying to carry out a coup against him but their leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, went on TV on Tuesday to accuse him and other Yemeni leaders of ignoring the people’s interests.
The UN Security Council has backed Mr Hadi’s authority as the legitimate president in a statement agreed by all 15 members.
The US stressed on Wednesday that he remained president and said a joint counter-terrorism operation against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants (AQAP) was continuing.
Ahead of the announcement of the deal, land, sea and air crossings to the country were closed, local media reported. The main security body in the southern port city of Aden said the measure was necessary because of the “dangerous developments in the capital”.
The Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah (Partisans of God), are believed to have taken control of most media outlets. They are also thought to have besieged the residence of Prime Minister Khalid Bahah.

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