Houthis consolidate control over Yemeni state institutions

Officials at the Hodeida port said Houthi fighters blocked Yemen’s main Red Sea harbor

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Yemen’s Houthi movement sacked top managers of the country’s second largest port and the main oil company on Wednesday, staff said, in the latest move by the Shiite Muslim group to consolidate its hold on state institutions.

Officials at the Hodeida port said Houthi fighters on Wednesday blocked the director of the facility, Yemen’s main Red Sea harbor where most of the country’s food imports arrive, with a view to replacing him.

“The staff were so angry that they walked out in a demonstration and closed off the port,” a port official said by telephone.

Additionally, the rebels took over the nation’s main state newspaper and ousted the chief editor, Yemen’s official news agency reported.

SABA quotes the Information Ministry as saying al-Thawra’s headquarters was overrun Wednesday in order “to manipulate editorial policy.”

It calls the action a “blatant assault” and a “grave violation of the freedom of the press.”

The ministry did not openly say the Shiite Houthis, who swept into Sanaa and several major cities over the past months, were behind the assault.

Officials at the paper say armed militants raided the building and ousted chief editor, Faisal Makram, after accusing him of corruption.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity for fear for their own safety.

Also on Wednesday, about 20 Houthi fighters broke into the state-run Safer oil company in Sanaa, kicked out the director and his deputy and locked their offices, company officials said.

Officials say the Houthis are getting support from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was sanctioned last month by the U.N. Security Council for threatening Yemen’s peace and stability, a charge he has denied.

“It is clear that the Houthis, together with Ali Abdullah Saleh, are completing their (September) 21 coup,” said Sultan al-Atwani, an adviser to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Apart from their moves at Hodeida port and the al-Thawra newspaper, the Houthis sacked four provincial governors and the commander of the special forces.

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