Yemeni govt disputes handover of Hodeidah port

Sanaa: Yemen’s government on Sunday denied that fighters had pulled out of a strategically important port in the embattled city of Hodeidah under a UN-brokered deal and accused them of handing over the facility to their loyalists.
On Saturday, fighter officials said the handover of the port was conducted in the presence of a UN monitoring team.
“The Ansar Allah’s announcement of their redeployment at the Hodeidah port and transferring it to elements affiliated to them is a rejected and unacceptable matter,” said Askar Zaeel, a government official.
“This step lowers peace opportunities and unmasks intentions of the Ansar Allah and its swift efforts to undermine the UN-sponsored agreement,” he told the official news agency Saba.
Zaeel, who participated in the Sweden talks, said the deal makes it “unequivocal” that the management of Hodeidah’s three ports and their security are the responsibility of government agencies.
Earlier this month, Yemen’s warring sides reached a ceasefire agreement on Hodeidah at UN-sponsored talks in Sweden as part of moves aimed at building confidence between them.  
The deal was seen as a breakthrough in efforts to end Yemen’s four-year war, which has claimed thousands of lives and pushed the impoverished country to the brink of famine.
Last week, a UN monitoring team, led by retired Dutch general Patrick Cammaert, arrived in Hodeidah to oversee the ceasefire that went into effect on December 18 amid accusations of breaches by both sides.
The committee comprises representatives from the government and fighters. A UN spokesman said Cammaert was disappointed at the Ansar Allah’s actions.
“He emphasised that any redeployment would only be credible if all parties and the United Nations are able to observe and verify that it is in line with the Stockholm agreement,” the spokesman said. — dpa