Yemen Houthis set demands amid standoff

Houthi leader demands implementation of power-sharing deal, as President Hadi's residence remains surrounded by rebels.

    The leader of the Houthi rebels in Yemen has demanded that President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi implement a power-sharing deal, as rebels took over the presidential palace after months of political standoff.

    Rebel leader Abdel-Malik al-Houthi accused Hadi of "failing the Yemeni people" and said the president disrupted the implementation of the Peace and National Partnership Agreement (PNPA), which was struck after the Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, in September.

    President Hadi is still in his home. There is no problem, he can leave.

    Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, member of the Houthi politburo

    On Wednesday, Houthi fighters stood guard outside the private residence of Hadi, whose home in the city centre is normally protected by presidential security officers, witnesses said.

    Entry posts were empty and there was no sign of the presidential guard at the compound, scene of clashes between Houthis and guards on Tuesday, the witnesses said.

    An official at the president's residence told Al Jazeera that Hadi had not been harmed in the clashes overnight. The president appeared to be under house arrest, the official added.   

    However, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi politburo, told Reuters: "President Hadi is still in his home. There is no problem, he can leave."

    Houthi demands

    Houthi fighters battled guards at Hadi's home and entered his palace on Tuesday, raising the stakes in a drive for more political power that has weakened state authority and thrown the Arab state deeper into turmoil.

    In a televised speech hours after his fighters' display of force on Tuesday, al-Houthi warned Hadi that he had to implement the power-sharing deal.

    RELATED: Yemen crisis explained

    "At this historic and exceptional point in time, when conspiracies have been plotted against the country, there is a great danger facing Yemen,” al-Houthi said.

    “Nothing will ever stop us from realising the peace and cooperation treaty. We will not be scared by foreign powers, the issue is crucial," the rebel leader added.

    The rebels are demanding security solutions and reforms to the national decision-making body and reject the draft constitution that divides Yemen into six federal regions.

    The Houthis appear to hold de facto power over the capital and most of the country after months of territorial gain that culminated in the capture of Sanaa last September.

    However, the international community is standing by the president as the legitimate leader of Yemen.

    Yemen analyst Peter Salisbury said it remains unclear how the ultimatum would affect the position of Hadi, who has not been heard from since the assault on his residence on Tuesday.

    "You've got the international community saying that Hadi is the legitimate leader of the country, but at the same time he has no power, and he has no control of events.

    "The Houthis like to point to their willingness to take part in the political process but whenever anything happens that is not to their liking, they respond with force, and they try to force the president's hand," Salisbury told Al Jazeera.

    Cristian Barros Melet, Chile’s permanent representative to the United Nations and currently UN Security Council president, urged all parties to commit to dialogue after a closed Security Council session on Tuesday.

    "The members of the Security Council condemn the recourse to violence in recent days, including the use of abduction, and urge all parties in Yemen to commit to established processes of dialogue and consultation."Foreign ministers from Gulf are due to hold an emergency meeting to address the unfolding events in Yemen.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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