Yemen’s Houthis free prime minister from house arrest

Khaled Bahah says his release was a goodwill gesture by the Shia rebel group to ease talks on political transition.

Prime Minister Khaled Bahah has left the capital Sanaa, and has indicated that he has no intention of resuming his post [EPA]

Yemen’s dominant rebel Houthi group has released Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and all his cabinet ministers, after nearly two months under house arrest, government spokesman Rajeh Badi said.

In a statement on his Facebook page on Monday, Bahah, who resigned in January after the Houthis captured the presidential palace, said the move was a goodwill gesture to ease talks on Yemen’s political transition, but said he had no intention of resuming his post.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from the Yemeni capital Sanaa, Hakim Al Masmari, editor in chief of the Yemen Post, said that the Houthis were under pressure from different armed and political groups to release Bahah.

Al-Masmari said that Bahah has already left Sanaa. But it was not clear where Bahah was headed.  

“The Houthis right now are under massive pressure, and that is why they needed to show some goodwill and that there is still a chance to reach a deal,” he said.

On Sunday, Houthi leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi said his group was engaged in indirect talks with neighbour Saudi Arabia.

The indirect talks are the first between the Shia Muslim group and the neighbouring Sunni regional powerhouse, since the Houthis took over much of Yemen last year.

Saudi Arabia, impoverished Yemen’s main benefactor, suspended its financial aid soon after their takeover and has accused Shia majority Iran of backing the group as part of a possible region-wide power grab.

The Houthis say their rise is a revolution against corruption and misrule, but a civil aviation deal inked with Tehran last month and a series of military drills by the group on the Saudi border last week have increased tensions.

The Houthis invaded the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September and dissolved parliament last month in a move Gulf countries denounced as a coup.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies