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Yemeni President Calls for End to Tribal Clashes

Yemen President Ali Abdallah Salah (File Photo)

Yemen President Ali Abdallah Salah (File Photo)

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh says he is opposed to any further conflict in the north of the country, after a week of tribal clashes left at least 70 dead. There are conflicting reports that tribal mediators have reached a ceasefire between Houthi rebels and the rival Ben Aziz tribe.

Yemeni security forces paraded before President Ali Abdullah Saleh in a show of military strength and readiness as the country faces multiple internal conflicts.

President Saleh addressed a graduation ceremony for Yemen's security forces, telling them that he is opposed to further conflict in the country.

He says that the choice of the Yemeni government is peace, security and stability. He notes there has been a futile degradation of that peace and stability in Saada province and urges outside forces to leave the province, so it can rebuild what was destroyed by six recent wars.

President Saleh says the government is ready to set aside money to rebuild the area.

The French Press Agency reported late Saturday that tribal mediators had reached a ceasefire to end a week of fighting between Houthi rebels and the rival Bin Aziz tribe in the north of the country.

But al-Arabiya TV reports clashes are continuing after the Houthi rebels demanded Bin Aziz leader Sheikh Sagheer Aziz leave the area. Sheikh Aziz is a pro-government member of parliament.

There are also conflicting reports that Houthi rebels attacked a Yemeni Army vehicle, killing and wounding a number of soldiers.

Yemen Post newspaper editor-in-chief Hakim Almasmari says tribal mediators have been feverishly working to get all sides to lay down their arms, but with limited success.

"The situation has not been resolved. There has been no truce, yet," he said. "The tribes are trying to make the truce come alive, but until now six different agreements on the truce were breached. So, a truce that happens an hour ago is breaking the next hour. Over the last four days, six agreed truces took place."

A delegation from Qatar is expected in the Yemeni capital Sanaa within the next couple of weeks to help rebuild parts of Saada and Amran province, which were destroyed in six rounds of conflict since 2004. Thousands of refugees from the conflict live in tent cities run by the U.N. and the Yemeni Red Crescent Society.

Almasmari says the latest round of fighting is an effort by rival tribes to gain the upper hand before the delegation arrives.

"The fighting will take place because the tribes want to be powerful on the ground, to get more leverage when the Qataris come," added Almasmari. "Everyone is trying to gain as much as he can, before the Qataris come."

A ceasefire, signed in Qatar ended the previous round of fighting between government forces and the Houthi rebels last February.