Yemen's political parties are edging closer to a deal that would resolve the crisis caused by the Shiite Huthi militia seizing power, UN envoy Jamal Benomar has said.
Parties including the powerful Huthis have agreed on the "form of the legislative authority in the interim period", Benomar wrote on his Facebook page late Thursday.
He hailed the preliminary accord as an "important step towards achieving a comprehensive political agreement that would end the current crisis".
The Huthis seized Sanaa in September before tightening their grip and prompting Western-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to offer to resign in protest.
They dissolved parliament and installed a "presidential council" on February 6, sparking security concerns that saw several Arab and Western states close their embassies and evacuate diplomats.
The new deal stipulates that the current parliament dominated by ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh's party would remain in place, while a parallel "People's Transitional Council" would be formed to include "unrepresented components", Benomar said.
Half of the seats in the new council would go to representatives of formerly independent South Yemen, while women and youth groups would get a 30 percent and 20 percent quota respectively.
The two chambers together would form the "national council," the UN envoy said.
"This progress is not an agreement, but is an important breakthrough that paves the way towards a comprehensive agreement," he wrote.
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On Sunday, the UN Security Council urged the Huthis, known officially as Ansarullah, to "immediately and unconditionally" engage in "good faith" in UN-brokered negotiations, withdraw their forces from government institutions and relinquish power.
In a new resolution, adopted unanimously by all 15 members, the council also demanded that the militia release Hadi, his Prime Minister Khalid Bahah and other officials and activists under de facto house arrest or in detention.
In response on Monday, the Huthis told the Security Council to "respect the will and sovereignty of the Yemeni people, and to be accurate and objective".
Since overrunning Sanaa unopposed in September, the Huthis have expanded their control to coastal areas and regions south of the capital, but have faced fierce resistance from Sunni tribes and Al-Qaeda militants.
Al-Qaeda, which remains active in the southeast, frequently attacks the security forces.
One soldier was killed and four were wounded in a roadside bombing in Hadramawt province Friday.
The attack on the road between the main interior towns of Sayun and Shibam targeted the convoy of General Abdulrahman al-Halilli, commander of the First Military Region, an army official said.
In Aden, a soldier from the special police forces and two members of a local militia were killed in a Friday gunfight.
The clash took place when the police, accused of cooperating with the Huthis, stopped a vehicle at a checkpoint carrying gunmen from the Popular Resistance Committees, according to a source in the militia.