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Yemen lawmakers to meet Sunday after president quits

By AFP   |   23 January 2015   |   8:41 am  

YEMEN’S parliament will hold an emergency meeting on Sunday after President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi offered to resign over a deadly standoff with Shiite militia controlling the capital, official media said.

Hadi, a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda, said in his letter of resignation that he could no longer stay in office as the country was in “total deadlock”.

“The parliament will hold an extraordinary meeting Sunday to discuss the current developments in the country,” state news agency Saba reported.

A Yemeni official had earlier said lawmakers would meet on Friday to debate the resignation offer, which needs to be approved by the house.

But Hadi advisor Sultan al-Atwani told AFP that parliament would meet on Sunday “at the earliest” because it is in recess and lawmakers need time to return.

Witnesses and security forces said that Huthi militiamen had encircled the parliament building overnight, having already seized the presidential palace earlier this week.

Gunmen have also surrounded the houses of top officials including Defence Minister Mahmud al-Subaihi and head of intelligence Ali al-Ahmedi, a security official said.

The Huthis, who hail from Yemen’s northern highlands and who took control of most of the capital Sanaa in September, said the constitution stipulates that Hadi’s resignation should be approved by an absolute majority in parliament.

“As this has not happened, the resignation remains pending,” the militia said in a statement.

Hadi’s announcement came shortly after Prime Minister Khalid Bahah also resigned.

The Huthi statement called on supporters to take to the street on Friday afternoon to show their “backing for the revolutionary measures”.

After heavy fighting between government forces and the Huthis this week that killed at least 35 people, the UN Security Council and Yemen’s Gulf neighbours had all voiced support for Hadi’s continued rule.

The situation escalated on Saturday when the militiamen seized top presidential aide Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak in an apparent bid to extract changes to a draft constitution opposed by the Huthis because it would divide Yemen into six federal regions.

The Huthis continue to hold Mubarak and maintain a tight grip on the capital despite a deal struck late on Wednesday to end what authorities called a coup attempt.

In return for concessions over the disputed draft constitution, the Huthis pledged to vacate the presidential palace, free Mubarak, withdraw from areas surrounding the residences of Hadi and Bahah, and abandon checkpoints across the capital.

 



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