The leader of the Houthi rebels in Yemen has called for mass protests in the capital Sanaa over the president’s appointment of a new prime minister.
Abdulmalik al-Houthi said in a televised speech on Wednesday that the protests in the capital would be accompanied by unspecified steps “to contribute to correcting this mistake”.
The president, Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, appointed his chief of staff Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak as the new prime minister on Tuesday, a move Houthi asked him to reconsider.
“What Yemen needs now is an independent [prime minister] who can have the responsibility in carrying Yemen through this transitional phase. We were surprised at the announcement. We received assurances that this particular name was eliminated but right after the meeting with the American ambassador, the name resurfaced,” said al-Houthi.
The Houthis quickly snubbed Mubarak on the basis that he was not selected through a consensus decision and that he was an “agent of the US”.
Houthi said he wanted protests in Sanaa on Thursday.
The rebels refusal will further delay 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 fight against fighters, using drones to target al-Qaeda operatives, their camps and hideouts across much of Yemen.