The Yemeni government demanded on Monday that the Houthis should reveal the fate of prominent political activist Muhammad Qahtan or face the suspension of the prisoner swap talks, Anadolu has reported. Qahtan has been detained by the Houthis since 2015.
“The government team has agreed with the Houthis to conduct a new round of negotiations in mid-May, preceded by visits to Ma’rib and Sana’a to see the conditions of detainees and prisoners, including Muhammad Qahtan,” a spokesman for the government negotiating team, Majid Fadayel, told the news agency. “Failure to respond to the government’s demands, foremost of which is to visit Qahtan and disclose his fate, will force the government to suspend negotiations with the Houthis.”
At the time of publication of the original article, the Houthis had not commented on the government’s demand.
Qahtan is a leading figure in Al-Islah, the largest Islamic political party in Yemen and one of four people covered by UN Security Council Resolution 2216 of 2015, which obligates the Houthis to release them.
To date, the group has released three people named in the resolution: former Defence Minister Major General Mahmoud Al-Subaihi; Major General Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of former President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi; and the commander of the 119th Infantry Brigade, Major General Faisal Rajab. However, Qahtan’s fate is still unknown, following his kidnapping from his home in Sana’a shortly after the fighting broke out in March 2015.