Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has been dismissed from the leadership of his party after being accused of soliciting UN sanctions against his predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The General People’s Congress on Saturday said it appointed two members to the posts of vice president and secretary general in place of Hadi, who became president after Saleh was forced to resign in February 2012 after a year of bloody protests.
The UN Security Council a day earlier imposed sanctions on Saleh and allied two Shia Houthi rebel commanders for threatening the peace and stability of the country and obstructing the political process.
The three men, including military leaders Abd al-Khaliq al-Houthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim, are now subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze.
Saleh denied seeking to destabilise Yemen and his party had warned that any sanctions on the former president or “even waving such a threat would have negative consequences on the political process”.
The UN decision came after thousands of Saleh and Houthi supporters filled the streets of Sanaa to protest the move to punish the ex-leader, accused of being the main backer of the rebels.
“GPC party’s sacking of Hadi is obviously the first reaction to UN sanctions against Saleh. But how significant is the decision [remains to be seen],” Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the capital, said.
“Hadi has never had huge sway in the party, now he will try to reach out to other political factions to strengthen his position,” Ahelbarra said.
Saleh stepped down in 2011 as part of a US-backed, Gulf-brokered deal after months of protests against his rule.
But Hadi’s backers accuse Saleh of undermining his successor. Many believe Saleh, who remains a powerful
political player, helped Houthi rebels in the past months as they swept into Sanaa.
Yemen on Friday announced a new 36-member government intended to pull the country out of political crisis.
But violence continued to rage across the country.
On Saturday, al-Qaeda said its fighters in central Yemen killed dozens of Houthi rebels in twin attacks that included a suicide bombing.
Tribal sources also said dozens died in the attacks, including when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into a medical centre converted into a barracks by the Houthi rebels in the Rada region of Manaseh.
“Since Houthis overran the capital in September, they have expanded to areas that are predominantly Sunni, prompting Sunni tribes to make alliances with al-Qaeda to quell the Houthis,” Ahelbarra said.
“This has increased the sectarian divide, a development that is very worrying for the international community”.