Yemen leader expected to accept demands of Houthis who defeat his guards

Yemen leader expected to accept demands of Houthis who defeat his guards
# 21 January 2015 20:14 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was expected to yield to demands on Wednesday for constitutional change and power sharing with Houthi rebels who took up positions outside his home after defeating his guards in two days of battle, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Gulf neighbors denounced what they described as a coup in Yemen, although both the Houthis and some of the president's allies denied that he had been overthrown.

A source close to the president said Hadi had met an official of the Shi'ite Muslim rebel group and would soon issue decrees resolving all differences. The source denied Hadi was under house arrest inside the residence, surrounded since early morning by Houthi fighters.

"Within hours, decisions will be made heeding the Houthi demands," said the source, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity before the official announcement. "We expect an announcement to resolve all problems within hours."

The Houthis, friendly to Iran, swept into the capital four months ago and have emerged as the dominant force in the country. For now at least they appear to have decided to stop short of overthrowing Hadi, possibly preferring to exert control over a weakened leader rather than take on the burden of power.

Their defeat of the presidential guards in gunbattles and artillery duels in recent days adds to disarray in a country where the United States is also carrying out drone strikes against one of the most powerful branches of al Qaeda.

The guards' defeat was made possible because the army did not fight, a reflection that Hadi, a former general, secured little lasting power base during his military service while the Houthis have penetrated key institutions since September.

After clashes at the president's office and home on Tuesday, the Houthis' leader threatened in a speech overnight to take further "measures" unless Hadi bowed to his demand for constitutional changes that would increase Houthi power.

By early morning on Wednesday, Houthi fighters, accompanied by an armored vehicle, had replaced the guards at the president's residence. Presidential guard sentry posts were initially empty, however a few guards later appeared and were permitted to take up positions.

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

Prime Minister Khaled Bahah quit his official residence, which had also been surrounded by Houthi fighters, for "a safe place after three days of siege", one of his aides told Reuters.

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