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Exiled Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi transferred his powers to a presidential council Thursday, a major step aimed at ending the years-long civil war in Yemen, the BBC reported.
Hadi announced that the new leadership council will be led by former Interior Minister Rashad al-Alimi and will be tasked with reaching a permanent ceasefire and political solution with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
The transfer of power comes less than a week after the start of a two-month nationwide truce between Yemen’s warring factions, the first nationwide ceasefire in six years.
The conflict in Yemen has been raging since 2015, when the Houthis seized control of large parts of the country and forced Hadi to flee. A Saudi Arabian-led alliance of Arab states later stepped in to restore Hadi’s rule but the war continued on, resulting in one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
More than 150,000 people have died and more than 23 million – three-quarters of the population – are in desperate need of aid.
Following the power transfer, Saudi Arabia offered its full support to the council and pledged $3 billion in financial aid. It also urged the council to “embark on negotiations with the Houthis under the auspices of the UN.”
United Nations officials noted that the two-month ceasefire has significantly reduced violence in the country, calling it “an important… but a fragile step” to end the seven-year conflict.