Houthis reject Yemeni leader’s bid to end crisis

A member of the Yemeni security forces loyal to the Huthi Shiite shouts slogans during a demonstration near the cabinet's headquarters in Sanaa calling for the government to resign on September 1, 2014. (AFP)

Yemen’s Houthi rebels rejected on Tuesday President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s bid to quell weeks of protests by the Shi’te Muslim rebel group.

Hadi had dismissed his Cabinet, proposed a national unity administration and suggested reversing an earlier decision to lift fuel subsidies.

He made his decision during a meeting with the now outgoing government, representatives of political parties and parliament members, the official news agency SABA reported.

“The nation is passing through tough times,” the agency reported Hadi as saying during the meeting. “It is standing at a crossroads: either walk the path of life, development, and a new Yemen, or chaos, lawlessness and the unknown.”

But the Houthi group, which had massed tens of thousands of supporters in the capital Sanaa with camps set up near the Interior Ministry, rejected Hadi’s steps.

Houthis’ spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam said his group rejected the move and would continue to pressure the government. “We are not giving in ... but we will also not shut the door to dialogue.”

Faris al-Saqqaf, Hadi’s political adviser, told The Associated Press the rebel group had surprised him by reacting in what he described as a harsh and swift manner.

“It shows that the Houthis have other goals and are using the subsidies as a pretext to execute another agenda,” he said. On Monday, Hadi alleged that there are “countries in the region that want to create chaos in Sanaa and burn it like Damascus and Baghdad are burning now” - a thinly veiled reference to Iran, which he says supports Houthis.

With their rejection, it is unclear what the government’s next move will be. However, Hadi, in a speech before the meeting where the proposal was signed, suggested his patience was running out.

“I affirm that I will deal decisively with all attempts to shake security and carry out division,” he said in remarks on the state Saba news agency.

Security and political turmoil have mounted in Yemen since Arab spring protests ousted veteran autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh and Hadi took his place in a complex deal mediated by the United Nations, Gulf neighbors and the United States.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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