Yemen suffers power vacuum after president, premier quit

Yemen suffers power vacuum after president, premier quit
# 23 January 2015 18:14 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Yemen drifted deeper into political limbo on Friday after President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi resigned in exasperation at a Houthi rebel takeover of the country, a move that appeared to catch the Iran-backed group off balance, APA reports quoting Reuters.

Hadi, a former general, blamed the Houthis' control of the capital Sanaa for impeding his attempt to steer Yemen toward stability after years of turmoil and tribal unrest, deepening poverty and U.S. drone strikes on Islamist militants.

His resignation on Thursday startled the Arabian Peninsula country of 25 million, where the Houthis emerged as the dominant faction by seizing Sanaa in September and dictating terms to a humiliated Hadi, whom they had held as a virtual prisoner at his home residence clashes with security guards this week.

The Houthis and pro-democracy activists staged rival rallies on Friday.

Thousands gathered in central Sanaa with placards calling for "Death to America, Death to Israel", a slogan that has become a trademark of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group.

"Hadi should have resigned a long time ago," Al Sheikh Moghadal Al Wazeer, an elderly Houthi supporter said. "He should have done more and he should have run the country with more strength."

Earlier in the day, a small group of pro-democracy activists chanted "we are the revolution" as they converged on Change Square, the focus of 2011 protests which forced long-ruling President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down under a Gulf power transfer deal.

"We're here in rejection of the events that are happening. We came out to build a state and our demand is still to have a state," said activist Farida al-Yareemi. "We went out against Ali Abdullah Saleh and he had all the weapons."

Washington, which has relied on Hadi's cooperation to stage the drone strikes on the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda, said it was concerned by the departures of the president and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, who also quit on Thursday.

"The United States is troubled by reports of President Hadi and his cabinet’s resignation," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. "At this time, it is critical that all sides avoid violence."

The Yemeni parliament is scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss Hadi's resignation and can accept or reject it. Under the constitution, parliamentary speaker Yahya al-Ra'i, who comes from Saleh's General People's Congress party, takes office for an interim period while new elections are organized.

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