Shia militia tightens grip on Yemen after ‘coup’

Houthi militiamen and soldiers stand behind a roadblock at the scene of a blast near the republican palace in Sanaa on Saturday. — Reuters photo

Yemen’s Shia Huthi militia on Saturday formed a ‘security commission’, consolidating its grip on power after a takeover denounced by opponents as a ‘coup’ and condemned by the international community.
The declaration was followed by a blast outside the Huthi-controlled presidential palace, and a protest by thousands of people on the streets of Sanaa, witnesses said.
Gunmen loyal to the Shia Muslim militia, which is also known as Ansarullah, fired into the air to disperse the demonstrators in the capital and detained 17 of them.
It was a second successive day of anti-Huthi protests in Sanaa and other cities after the militia dissolved parliament and created a ‘presidential council’ Friday in a move it said was to fill a power vacuum.
The Shia militia overran Sanaa in September and seized the presidential palace and key government buildings last month, prompting president Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and prime minister Khalid Bahah to tender their resignations.
In its announcement on Saturday, the Huthi movement said Hadi’s defence minister, General Mahmud al-Subaihi, would chair its newly formed security commission, which also included the outgoing interior minister.
The security commission ‘will lead the country’s affairs until the establishment of a presidential council,’ the Huthis said in a statement published by official Saba news agency, which they seized in January.
But Subaihi’s entourage reacted to the appointment with mistrust, because the general is considered close to Hadi, and suggested he was forced into accepting the post.
‘We lost contact with him and we are concerned for his life,’ Abdel Aziz Mansour, an aide to the general, said.
The Huthis’ move on Friday to tighten its grip on power triggered angry condemnation from powerful Sunni Muslim tribes, which branded it a ‘coup’.
Huthi television channel Al-Massira said militia chief Abdel Malek al-Huthi would address supporters later Saturday during celebrations in Sanaa’s northern suburbs.

Source: New Age


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