Yemen’s armed Houthi rebels and their political allies have formed a new government, the rebel-run state news agency Saba reported, in what appeared a blow to UN-backed efforts to end 20 months of war in the country.
The Supreme Political Council, a body through which the Iran-backed Shia rebels have been ruling parts of Yemen, announced the new government on Monday.
“The [Council] meeting stressed that the government, which was formed amid the difficult conditions experienced by the country, is tasked with putting in order the internal situation and confronting the aggression,” Saba news agency reported.
“The Council noted that this comes amid the intransigence of the aggression and its [Yemeni] mercenaries to move within the framework of a national solution … to spare the country further bloodshed and destruction.”
Rajeh Badi, a spokesperson for the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, said the move showed “a disregard not just for the Yemeni people, but also for the international community”.
“It’s been over a year and a half since the Houthi militia’s coup, no one in the international community has recognised the entities they have formed,” Badi added.
Diplomats had hoped the Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa, would hold off on putting together a cabinet of their loyalists and instead form a unity government with their Yemeni foes.
The Houthis, who control territory with more than half of Yemen’s population, previously said forming a government with their allies did not mean abandoning the UN-sponsored peace process.
Meanwhile, Yemeni security and medical officials said at least 13 civilians were killed on Saturday in an air strike by the Saudi-led military coalition near the western port city of Hodeida.
The air strike hit two houses in rural areas northeast of the rebel-held city, and the dead included women and children, according to a medical official at al-Thawra hospital.
More than 7,000 people have been killed and nearly 37,000 wounded in the 20-month conflict, according to the UN.