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Saudi prevents Houthis from attending Geneva talks

Supporters of Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement demonstrate in the capital Sana'a on June 25, 2018 in support of fellow Houthis engaged in battles against the coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah. (Photo by AFP)

Yemen's Houthi Ansarullah movement says the Saudi regime, which imposes restrictions on Yemen’s airspace, has banned its delegation from flying to attend peace talks brokered by the United Nations in Geneva.

According to Yemen’s al-Masirah television network, the UN could not "secure authorization" from the Saudi-led coalition.

The office of the UN special envoy for Yemen did not respond to media request for comment.

Representatives from Yemen’s running government, which is allied to the popular Houthi movement, and the country’s former regime, backed by Saudi Arabia, are to participate in the talks in the Swiss city on Thursday.

Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy, will be supervising the talks and is likely to shuttle between the two sides as face-to-face meetings between them are unlikely.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday on the eve of the talks, Griffiths said the upcoming "consultations" between the conflicting parties in Geneva offered a "flickering signal of hope."

"The people of Yemen ... are desperately in need of a signal of hope. We would like to think that the work we will do together in these next days will begin to send a flickering signal of hope to them.”

The UN official also said the talks would begin by trying to build trust between the two parties and substance will come later.

The former Yemeni government resigned in 2015 as the country was experiencing political turmoil.

The head of that government, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, fled to Riyadh after resignation. There, he encouraged Saudi plans to launch attacks on Yemen, where the Houthi movement had taken over state matters in the absence of a functioning government.

A Saudi-backed coalition soon invaded Yemen in an attempt to reinstall the former Riyadh-friendly officials to power despite their resignation.

Thousands have been killed in the Saudi-led invasion, and the country has been pushed close to the edge of famine. A cholera outbreak, resulting from the devastation of Yemen’s health infrastructure, has also claimed more than 2,000 lives.

Police injure 8 protesters in Hadi-held areas in southern Yemen

In a separate development, police on Wednesday shot and injured eight people who took part in protests in southern Yemen, which is largely controlled by pro-Hadi militants, against the rising cost of living, according to eyewitnesses and a security official.

Hundreds of people were protested in Mukalla, the provincial capital of Hadramawt, tearing down pictures of officials in the Saudi-led coalition, eyewitnesses said.

Clashes reportedly erupted between the demonstrators and the security forces.

A security official in Hadramawt said eight people were injured by police.

A strike in Seyoun, the second largest city in Hadramawt, also entered its third day. Shops were shuttered and ex-government offices closed temporarily.

Southern Yemen has witnessed mass protests against the rising cost of living since Sunday.

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