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Yemen: Al-Islah Party denounces prisoner swap talks for ignoring senior official

A group of 230 Houthi prisoners arrive at Seyoun Airport by a plane of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebel group exchanged prisoners in line with a swap deal between them in Sanaa, Yemen on 15 October 2020. [Mohammed Hamoud - Anadolu Agency]
A group of 230 Houthi prisoners arrive at Seyoun Airport by a plane of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebel group exchanged prisoners in line with a swap deal between them in Sanaa, Yemen on 15 October 2020. [Mohammed Hamoud - Anadolu Agency]

Yemen's Al-Islah Party yesterday criticised the government for not including their abducted senior official, Muhammad Qahtan, in prisoner swap talks with the Iran-backed Houthi movement. The party's general secretary told Yemen Shabab that Al-Islah was aware of the "UN-supervised talks" about such a deal.

"We are surprised that one of our senior officials, Muhammad Qahtan, who has been held by the Houthis since April 2015, has not been included in the deal," said Abdul Wahhab Al-Anisi. "Qahtan has been prevented from seeing his family since his abduction from his home. He is being held in atrocious conditions."

Yemen's warring parties were recently reported to have discussed and agreed a possible prisoner swap. It is said that the 823 prisoners being swapped by the Houthis include 804 Yemeni soldiers and political detainees, 16 Saudi soldiers and three Sudanese soldiers. The swap will also, it is believed, see the release of Nasser Mansour Hadi, the brother of Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, and Mahmoud Al-Subaihi, his former defence minister.

Impoverished Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Houthis ousted the government from the capital, Sanaa, in late 2014. The war escalated after a Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015 to support the internationally-recognised government.

The UN has said that the conflict has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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