Yemen’s Houthis reject U.N. call to cede power

U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar visits President Hadi at his house and vows to press for his release

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Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels rejected on Monday a call from the United Nations Security Council to cede power in the turmoil-struck country, as a U.N. official worked to secure the release of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who is effectively under house arrest by the militia group.

The Houthis told the Security Council to “respect the will and sovereignty of the Yemeni people, and to be accurate and objective.”

It also told the Council “not to follow the lead of regional powers that aim tirelessly to eliminate the will of the Yemeni people in a flagrant violation of international conventions that criminalize meddling in internal affairs.”

On Sunday, the 15-member Security Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution drafted by Britain and Jordan calling on the Houthis to cede power and release Hadi.

The United Nation’s envoy to Yemen vowed on Monday to press for the release of Hadi.

Jamal Benomar visited Hadi at his house in the capital, where he discussed with the embattled leader the latest U.N. Security Council resolution.

“I assured him that we will continue our efforts to lift the house arrest imposed on him and the Prime Minister” Khalid Bahah, Benomar said in a statement.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that Yemen is falling apart and called for Hadi’s reinstatement.

The information minister in Bahah’s resigned government, Nadia Sakkaf, said meanwhile that Hadi needed to travel abroad “immediately” for medical treatment.

“I visited President Hadi today. He has a heart condition and was quite ill. He must be allowed to travel for treatment,” Sakkaf wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, both Japan and Turkey said Monday they had temporarily shut their embassies in Yemen, adding to the latest exodus of foreign diplomats over security fears.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said its embassy would resume activities when state authority had been reasserted, according to an e-mailed statement.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry said its staff had evacuated to the Japanese Embassy in Qatar, from where they will be fulfilling some duties.

Both countries have urged their citizens to leave the strife-racked country as the security situation deteriorates.

On Feb. 6, the Houthis ousted the government and dissolved parliament, tightening their grip after Western-backed Hadi resigned in protest at their advance.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that Yemen is falling apart and called for Hadi’s reinstatement.

The Houthis overran Sanaa unopposed in September.

They have since expanded their control to coastal areas and regions south of Sanaa, where they have faced fierce resistance from Sunni tribes and Al-Qaeda militants.

Yemen is home to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is considered the most dangerous affiliate of the global jihadist network.

(With AFP)

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