Houthis refuse to leave Yemen capital

Shia rebels tell Al Jazeera they will remain in the capital despite signing a peace agreement saying they would leave.

Houthis have besieged Sanaa for over a month and seized key state installations from the government [Reuters]

Yemen’s Houthi fighters have refused to withdraw from Sanaa after seizing much of the capital in a lightning offensive earlier this month, despite signing an agreement with the government saying they would leave.

A Houthi spokesman told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that the rebels would not withdraw to their mountainous stronghold in the north, but instead work with security authorities in the capital. 

“We will not withdrawal from Sanaa,” Mohammed Abdulsalam said.

Under a UN-brokered peace accord the rebels agreed to stop all acts of violence and leave Sanaa after the appointment of a new prime minister.

However, Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s president, has failed to name a new prime minister.

Hakim al-Masmari, the editor of the Yemen Post, told Al Jazeera that the government succumbed to each of the rebels’ demands and “article 15 of the deal gave the Houthis the right to remain in Sanaa and its neighbouring areas”.

The Houthis had besieged Sanaa for over a month, eventually seizing key state installations from the government with little resistance.

The Houthis, also known as Ansarullah, are a Zaidi Shia group who make up 30 percent of Yemen’s population and ruled a kingdom there for 1,000 years.

The Houthis have fought the central government in Sanaa for years, complaining of marginalisation under former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted in 2012 following a year of protests.

The rebels have been trying to enlarge their zone of influence since January by pushing out from their mountain strongholds in the far north to areas closer to the capital.

Source: Al Jazeera