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Last-minute effort to end crisis with Yemen rebels

September 1, 2014

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — A Yemeni presidential envoy traveled Monday to the northern stronghold of powerful Shiite rebels for a last-minute effort to end a standoff with the government, an official and a rebel representative said.

The last-minute talks come after the Hawthi rebel leader, Abdel-Malek al-Hawthi, called for civil disobedience against the government, expanding the mass protests that have besieged the capital for more than two weeks.

In a speech aired late Sunday, al-Hawthi also blasted a previous presidential delegation that engaged in talks with the group, accusing it of “lying and fabricating facts.”

The new envoy is President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s latest bid to end the crisis. Hadi already called on the group to end the rallies and extended the deadline for a second round of talks until Tuesday.

Both the government official and the rebel representative would not reveal the identity of the envoy, but said he was close to both sides and had engaged in previous negotiations.

The two spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.

The rebels have held protests and sit-ins in the capital, Sanaa, demanding the government step down and the reinstatement of fuel subsides, as well as increased political representation in governmental posts.

The Hawthis waged a six-year insurgency that officially ended in 2010. The following year, the country was convulsed by an Arab Spring-inspired uprising that eventually forced longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down as part of a U.S.-backed deal that gives him immunity from prosecution.

On Monday, Hawthi supporters held massive rallies outside the Cabinet and in other places in the capital, causing major traffic jams.

Al-Hawthi said late Sunday a campaign of civil disobedience would begin Monday, “but it will not be about closing stores or groceries ... it will be a different kind.” He didn’t elaborate.

“If our demands are not met there will be decisive measures that we will talk about in time,” he said.

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