Yemen’s main parties suspend talks with Houthi rebels

Parties demand parliament convene to debate president’s resignation and for assembly to take lead in transition period.

Houthis hold demonstration in Yemen
Hundreds of people marched across Sanaa on Monday in support of the three-day political deadline set by the Houthis [Anadolu Agency/Getty Images]

UN-brokered talks aimed at resolving Yemen’s political crisis appear to be falling apart after the country’s main political parties suspended their participation in negotiations with Houthi rebels who control the capital, Sanaa.

A senior Yemeni politician said on Monday that the parties had demanded that the parliament convene in order to consider embattled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s resignation and to take the lead in a post-Hadi transition period. 

According to Yemen’s constitution, in the event of the president’s resignation the parliament speaker would assume the post until new elections can be held.

Hadi submitted his resignation along with his cabinet on January 22.

The Houthis reject the legitimacy of the parliament, and issued a three-day ultimatum, starting on Sunday, for rival parties to come up with an alternative plan, saying that if they failed to do so, the rebels would completely take over the government.

The abandoned talks were focused at finding a framework for national consensus. 

Days before Hadi’s resignation, Houthi rebels had taken control of the presidential palace to press the president for a greater share of power.

They have confined Hadi and his cabinet members inside their homes.

Pro-Houthi march

Hundreds of Yemenis marched across Sanaa on Monday in support of the three-day political deadline set by the Houthis.

The rebels have also demanded that their fighters be integrated into Yemen’s army and police force as a precondition for talks, according to Abdullah Noaman, the leader of the Nasserite Party, which pulled out of the talks a day earlier.

He accused the Houthis of using the talks as “political cover to complete their coup”.

The rebels belong to the Shia Zaydi sect, whose followers make up about 30 percent of the population.

They swept down from their northern stronghold into Sanaa in September and took over key state institutions and military facilities.

Their opponents say they are backed by predominantly Shia Iran, a charge the Houthis deny.

Source: AP