UN envoy to Yemen lauds presidential aide's release

SANAA – The United Nations envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar has hailed the release of presidential chief-of-staff Ahmad Awad bin Mubarak as a "step" towards reducing tensions in the Arab country.

"The Special Adviser remarked that this news would help reduce tensions and enable progress in the on-going negotiations that he has been facilitating," Benomar said in a statement on Facebook on Tuesday.

"Mr. Benomar urged Ansarallah [a.k.a. the Houthis] to undertake steps that would be in the best interest of all political sides and the people of Yemen," he said.

A presidential source told The Anadolu Agency earlier Tuesday that bin Mubarak had been released by the Shiite Houthi group after being kidnapped ten days ago.

His release came shortly after a meeting between Houthi leaders and tribal representatives from the southern Shabwah province, during which the two sides reached a deal for bin Mubarak's release.

"In the context of the daily meetings of all the signatories to the Peace and National Partnership Agreement that Mr. Benomar has been convening, he pressed all political parties to act responsibly and to give priority to the national interest in order to overcome the current crisis," Benomar said.

Houthi militants seized control of capital Sanaa last September before moving on to establish control over other parts of the country.

The rise of the Houthis has pitted the Shiite group against local Sunni tribes and Al-Qaeda, the latter of which is said to remain active in the fractious country.

Yemen has remained in the throes of political turmoil since autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in 2012 following a months-long popular uprising against his 33-year rule.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency