Yemen’s Shiite Huthi militia dissolved parliament Friday and set up a “presidential council” to fill a power vacuum, sparking angry protests against what demonstrators and tribes called a “coup”.

The militia, which controls Sanaa, said it would set up a 551-member national council to replace the legislature in the violence-wracked country, a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda.

A five-member presidential council will form a transitional government for two years, the Huthis announced in a “constitutional declaration” which also mentioned a “revolutionary council” to “defend the nation”.

Sunni tribes in the eastern, oil-rich province of Marib cried foul and hundreds of people took to the streets of Sanaa in protest.

“We reject the authors of this coup in Sanaa,” a spokesman for the influential Marib tribes, Sheikh Saleh al-Anjaf, told AFP.

Youth activists, who played a key role in the 2011 uprising that forced out veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh, released a statement saying they “reject the hegemony of the Huthi militia”.

Hundreds of people protested around Sanaa university to denounce the Huthis, but the militiamen fired into the air to disperse them and arrested six people, witnesses said.

In Taez, Yemen’s third-largest city, protest tents were pitched outside the local government building against what anti-Huthi demonstrators called “the coup d’etat”, residents said.

Protests also erupted in the western city of Hudeida and in Aden, Yemen’s second city in the south where the governor, Abdel Aziz bin Habtur, called the Huthi declaration “a plot against the constitution”.

Yemeni female activist and Nobel Peace prize laureate Tawakkol Karman said the declaration was “null and void” and expected the people to rise against the Huthi “coup and liberate the capital which they occupy”.

ALSO READ  Ansarallah forces launch new drone strikes on 'important target' at Saudi airport

The heavily armed Huthis swept into Sanaa from their northern stronghold in September, seeking greater influence in running the country.

Last month they seized the presidential palace and key government buildings, prompting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Khalid Bahah to tender their resignations.

– ‘Necessary measures’ –

The Huthi declaration bore the signature of Mohammad Ali al-Huthi, a relative of militia chief Abdel Malek al-Huthi described as “the president of the revolutionary council”.

The council “will take all the necessary measures to defend the sovereignty of the nation, ensure its stability and security and guarantee the rights of citizens,” the declaration said.

It came after a Wednesday deadline set by the militia for political parties to resolve the crisis passed with no agreement, and after UN envoy Jamal Benomar had left the country.

Yemen has been riven by instability since the Arab Spring-inspired uprising that forced the autocratic Saleh from power in 2012.

He has been accused of backing the Huthis, who are from the same Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam, as has Shiite-dominated Iran.

The fall of Hadi’s Western-backed government has sparked fears that impoverished Yemen — strategically located next to oil-rich Saudi Arabia and on the key shipping route from the Suez Canal to the Gulf — would plunge into chaos.

Hadi said when he stepped down that he could no longer stay in office as Yemen was in “total deadlock”.

Formerly Saleh’s deputy, Hadi took office in 2012 under a UN- and Gulf-backed peace plan, emerging as a consensus figure.

ALSO READ  Greek tanker hit by mine off the coast of Saudi Arabia

Yemen is a country awash with weapons where powerful tribes hold sway, but Hadi, unlike Saleh, had no popular or tribal base to fall back on.

The situation escalated last month when the militia seized one of Hadi’s aides in apparent protest at a draft constitution that would have divided Yemen into six federal regions which they oppose.

In the formerly independent south, where separatists are demanding autonomy, officials have vowed to defy Sanaa following the resignation of Hadi, a southerner.

Yemen is an important power base for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which claimed responsibility for last month’s deadly attack on French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

Sanaa has allowed the United States to carry out repeated drone attacks on Al-Qaeda militants on its territory.

On Friday Al-Qaeda said it attacked the Huthis’ Saada stronghold in the north, when regional governor Mohamed Jaber Awadh survived a bomb attack on his convoy, official media said.

 

AFP

Share this article:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Notice: All comments represent the view of the commenter and not necessarily the views of AMN.

All comments that are not spam or wholly inappropriate are approved, we do not sort out opinions or points of view that are different from ours.

This is a Civilized Place for Public Discussion

Please treat this discussion with the same respect you would a public park. We, too, are a shared community resource — a place to share skills, knowledge and interests through ongoing conversation.

These are not hard and fast rules, merely guidelines to aid the human judgment of our community and keep this a clean and well-lighted place for civilized public discourse.

Improve the Discussion

Help us make this a great place for discussion by always working to improve the discussion in some way, however small. If you are not sure your post adds to the conversation, think over what you want to say and try again later.

The topics discussed here matter to us, and we want you to act as if they matter to you, too. Be respectful of the topics and the people discussing them, even if you disagree with some of what is being said.

Be Agreeable, Even When You Disagree

You may wish to respond to something by disagreeing with it. That’s fine. But remember to criticize ideas, not people. Please avoid:

  • Name-calling
  • Ad hominem attacks
  • Responding to a post’s tone instead of its actual content
  • Knee-jerk contradiction

Instead, provide reasoned counter-arguments that improve the conversation.