The Yemeni government’s pick to be the country’s next prime minister has turned down the post, following threats from the Houthi rebel group to hold a mass protest against his appointment.
Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak was due to be appointed as part of a United Nations brokered peace deal, but his nomination caused uproar among the Houthis, Al Jazeera’s correspondent, reporting from Sanaa, said early on Thursday.
“I was hurt when I saw some people wanted revenge,” Mubarak said in a letter announcing his decision. “I cry for my nation when I see its hopes and future being hijacked along with the rest of the region. For this reason, I apologise for not being able to accept the position and to participate in the country’s future.”
Our correspondent, whom Al Jazeera is not naming for security reasons, said that Mubarak likely sent the letter from abroad.
Celebratory gunfire and fireworks were heard across the capital Sanaa following the news, our correspondent reported.
Houthi leader Abdulmalik al-Houthi said on Wednesday that President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi was influenced by foreign powers when he put Mubarak’s name forward.
Houthi also called for “unspecified steps” if Hadi did not revoke his decision.
“What Yemen needs now is an independent [prime minister] who can have the responsibility in carrying Yemen through this transitional phase,” said al-Houthi.
The Houthis quickly snubbed Mubarak’s appointment on Tuesday on the basis that he was not selected through a consensus decision and that he was an “agent of the US”.
Mubarak’s refusal to take up the prime minister’s post further delayed the implementation of a ceasefire deal sponsored by the UN that calls for the Houthis to withdraw from Sanaa once a new neutral prime minister is named.
Houthi fighters stormed Sanaa on September 21, took over government buildings, mounted patrols and set up checkpoints.
The rebels have refused to withdraw from the city despite the UN deal promising them more influence with the Sunni-dominated government.
The US has been aiding the embattled Yemeni government in the struggle against rebels, using drones to target al-Qaeda operatives, their camps and hideouts across much of Yemen.