Defiant Yemeni rebels convene ‘illegal’ parliament

Houthis hold session of parliament in defiance of internationally recognised government.

Soldiers stand on the back of a police truck outside Yemen''s parliament during a session held by the parliament for the first time since a civil war began almost two years ago in Sanaa, Yemen
Forces loyal to ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh stand on the back of a police truck outside Yemen's parliament during a session convened for the first time since a civil war began almost two years ago [Reuters]

Yemen’s Houthi rebels convened the country’s parliament for the first time in close to two years, in defiance of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s internationally recognised government, prompting condemnation. 

Saturday’s session in the rebel-held capital of Sanaa came after the Houthis appointed a political council signed by ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party to run the country, and rejected a United Nations proposed peace plan.  

Hadi denounced the parliamentary session as a “violation” of the constitution and a “crime punishable by law”, in remarks carried by the official Yemeni Saba news website. 

“Whatever takes place at this meeting has no legal effects and cannot be implemented,” he said.

According to the constitution, more than half of the 301-member national assembly have to attend the session for voting to take place. 

“The solution is not by this tricky way, or by using the parliament which has expired and ended a long time ago,” Muhamed Jumeh, a journalist at the UK-based al-Quds al-Araby newspaper, told Al Jazeera.

“Any decision taken by the parliament must be taken on the agreement of different parties who make up the parliament, and that condition was not there,” said Jumeh, adding that Houthi media reported about 140 members of parliament attended the session. 

All voted in favour of the council, which was created last week, according to the Associated Press news agency. 

READ MORE: Houthi, Saleh council formation criticised by UN 

UN envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has described the rebel governing council as a violation of commitments to the peace process.

Last week, he suspended UN-brokered talks between rebels and the government in Kuwait. 

Yemen descended into chaos after the 2012 removal of Saleh, whose forces are fighting alongside the Shia Houthi rebels.

Security deteriorated further after the Houthis swept into Sanaa, and pushed south, forcing Hadi’s government to flee into exile in March last year.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia assembled a coalition of Arab states to battle the Houthis in Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition is backing Yemeni forces loyal to the exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who are trying to oust Iran-allied Houthis from the capital. 

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies