SANAA: Tens of thousands of pro-and anti- government Yemenis staged demonstrations in the capital Sanaa on Sunday, as tension escalated following the collapse of talks between the government and Shia Houthi group.
The protesters, including Houthi loyalists and supporters of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, took to streets several hours after the presidential committee announced it failed to reach an agreement with the rebels.
“The Houthi group refused all proposals and compromised solutions offered by President Hadi,” the spokesman of the presidential committee Abdulmalik al-Mikhlafi said in a statement upon their return to Sanaa.
The 10-member committee consisting of representatives of all Yemeni parties was formed on Wednesday by Hadi and held talks with the Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi in the northern province of Saada, the stronghold of the military group, since Thursday.
Hadi promised to include Houthi members in the future cabinet, said sources close to the committee. Officials at Hadi’s office said that the president will send another committee to hold the second round of talks with Houthis.
The current political crisis was triggered by a steep increase in fuel prices last month, and gain momentum as more and more armed Houthi fighters are flowing into areas around Sanaa. The rebels accused the government of corruption and demanded Hadi to dismiss the cabinet and reverse the fuel price increase. Dhaif Allah al-Shami, spokesman of the Houthi group, said in a statement posted on the website that “the Houthi group will not reverse on their demands and no other issues can be discussed. The peaceful protests in Sanaa will continue until our demands were met,” he said.
Hadi has put armed forces on high alert to face what he said threat to Yemen’s unity, stability and security by the Shia rebels.
Hours after the collapse of talks, the Houthis staged a mass rally in northern Sanaa, calling for overthrowing the government.
Houthi leader Abdul Malik has vowed to escalate their “ legitimate revolutionary action” if the authorities do not meet the protesters’ demands in a week. On Friday, the Houthis set up armed protest camps on streets near the interior, electricity and telecommunications ministries, as well as entrances to Sanaa.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of pro-government supporters, mostly from Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Islah party, took to the streets to show support for Hadi.
The protesters who rallied in southern Sanaa called for national solidarity and demanded Houthis hand over heavy weapons they seized last month after storming military camps in the northern province of Amran.
The Houthi group has fought against the Yemeni army in the country’s northern regions for years. Last month they seized Amran province, some 50 km north of Sanaa, after nine months of sporadic fighting with the army, during which hundreds of people were killed and tens of thousands displaced.
According to the United Nations agencies, up to 40,000 people have been displaced by conflict in Amran province since October, 2013, about half of whom fled their homes this May.
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