Yemen anti-Houthi rally stifled by rebels

Crowd of hundreds attend protest in Sanaa as Houthi rebels maintain grip on capital despite signing disarmament deal.

    Yemen anti-Houthi rally stifled by rebels
    Most of the protest leaders had been prevented from attending the rally [AP]

    Houthi rebels stifled a planned protest against them in Sanaa as the rebels maintained their grip on the Yemen capital despite signing a disarmament deal.

    Only a few hundred people attended the Sunday demonstration, which came a day after the Houthis agreed to disarm and withdraw from areas they recently seized - a commitment they have not yet honoured.

    Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall, in Sanaa, said nothing had changed since the Houthis signed the deal. He said rebels remained in control of much of the city and continued to occupy buildings including the army headquarters.

    "They're everywhere, they have not decreased their presence," he said, adding that they prevented many of the top protest leaders attending the anti-Houthi rally, which suffered from poor organisation.

    The Houthis' rivals - the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islah party and other parties - also signed the deal, part of a comprehensive agreement brokered by the UN to end clashes and protests in the capital.

    "For a secure capital free of armed militias," read a banner raised by demonstrators, who also called for the return of weapons seized by the Houthis.

    Also on Sunday, clashes were reported near the presidential palace and the road leading to the palace was sealed off.

    The Houthis, belonging to the Shia Zaidi sect, launched protests demanding a reduction in fuel prices and more political representation in August. After weeks of protests, fierce clashes erupted between Houthis, the army and government-allied Sunni tribesmen. 

    The deal that was eventually signed includes the formation of a new government incorporating the Houthis and some Yemeni southern separatist forces. 

    The advances by the Houthis raised concern in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

    The country's foreign minister said on Sunday that "unprecedented challenges" facing Yemen since the Houthis took over the capital could threaten international security, and called for swift action to deal with instability there.

    Saud al-Faisal told the UN general assembly that hopes for an end to the crisis had been wrecked by what he suggested was the Houthis' failure to honour the deal.

    "Yemen faces accelerating and extremely dangerous conditions that require us all to look and propose the necessary solutions to confront these unprecedented challenges," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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