26 January, 2015

Saudi Gazette | ‘Down with the Houthis’ rule’, thousands chant in a huge rally

'Down with the Houthis' rule', thousands chant in a huge rally
Sun, 25 Jan 2015 11:47:45 AST
Saudi Gazette | SANAA — Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of Sanaa on Saturday in the largest demonstration against Houthis since the Shiite militiamen overran the capital in September.

"Down, down with the Houthis' rule," chanted the protesters who rallied following a call by the Rejection Movement — a group recently formed in provincial areas to challenge the powerful militia.

Dozens of Huthi supporters tried to stop the demonstration, triggering a brief scuffle, before they left, as the numbers of protesters kept increasing.

Demonstrators gathered in Change Square near the University of Sanaa before they headed for Republican Palace, in central Sanaa, according to organizers.

The palace is the residence of Prime Minister Khalid Bahah, who left it on Wednesday for an unknown destination after a two-day siege by the militia.

But the protesters changed their route and headed toward the residence of embattled President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to express their "rejection of his resignation," according to the organizing committee.

The demonstrators were also demanding that Hadi "impose the authority of the state" in face of the tightening grip of Houthis on power, they said.

Hadi tendered his resignation Thursday saying he could no longer stay in office as the country was in "total deadlock."

Houthi gunmen backed by armored vehicles were deployed along Sittin Street, where the president lives, but they only watched on as the protesters marched and did not attempt to stop them.

Large demonstrations also took off in the cities of Taez, Ibb and Hudaida, organizers said.

Parliament is set to hold an extraordinary meeting on Sunday to discuss Hadi's resignation offer, which needs to be approved by lawmakers to take effect.

After heavy fighting between government forces and the Houthis this week that killed at least 35 people, the UN Security Council and Yemen's Gulf neighbours had all voiced support for Hadi's continued rule.

The situation escalated a week ago when the militiamen seized Hadi's chief of staff, Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak, in an apparent bid to extract changes to a draft constitution they oppose because it would divide Yemen into six federal regions. The Houthis still hold Mubarak and maintain a tight grip on the capital despite a deal struck late on Wednesday to end what authorities called a coup attempt.

In return for concessions over the disputed draft constitution, the Houthis had pledged to vacate the presidential palace, free Mubarak, withdraw from areas surrounding the residences of Hadi and Bahah, and abandon checkpoints across the capital. — AFP

No comments: