Houthis given 24 hours to free Yemen official

Yemeni president’s chief staff Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak was abducted Saturday by the Houthis. (File photo: AFP)

Leaders from the southern Yemini provinces gave Houthis late Saturday a 24-hour ultimatum to release the president’s chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

In a joint statement, they called all political components to halt their membership in all committees, and urged residents of the northern provinces to stand by their side.

The Houthis, who belong to the minority Zaidi Shiite community, have staged periodic uprisings since 2004 to win greater autonomy for Saada, the northern Yemeni province, now their heartland.

Meanwhile, southern leaderships also called residents in Shabwa, Hadramouth, and Maareb cities to ready to halt operations of all gas and oil companies.

Houthis, who make up the strongest group in the country after seizing large areas of Yemen last year, abducted Mubarak on Saturday in Sanaa amid a power struggle between rival sects.

The 46-year-old businessmen-turned-political figure emerged during uprising that toppled President Ali Abdullah Saleh after 22 years reign in power.

Houthis are at odds with Mubarak, who reportedly turned down the role of president after the group opposed him for his ties with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Houthis seized him to prevent a U.N.-brokered peace deal “from being broken,” the group’s popular committee said in a statement.

Mubarak, who is also secretary general of the national technical body set up to oversee the political transition following Saleh’s toppling, was reportedly also seized to prevent him from attending a meeting on the constitution.

The draft constitution, formally launched on Saturday, aims to resolve big regional, political and sectarian differences in Yemen by devolving authority to regions, but has been bitterly opposed by the Houthis who fear it will dilute their power.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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