Yemen leader urges Shiite rebels to leave capital
Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi on Friday urged Shiite rebels who overran Sanaa at the weekend to pull out of the capital, accusing them of breaching a UN-brokered peace accord.
The Huthi rebels, who had besieged Sanaa for a month, seized key state installations Sunday without any resistance, after clashes on the city’s outskirts with Sunni Islamists and tribes killed more than 270 people.
An agreement to end the fighting was mediated by UN envoy Jamal Benomar and signed on Sunday, shortly after the rebels, known also as Ansarullah, took control of most of the city.
“The legitimate way to implement this agreement is to recognise the state’s authority over the whole country, especially Sanaa,” President Hadi said in an address to the nation.
“All installations and stolen weapons should be handed” back to the authorities, he said, after the rebels seized scores of tanks and armoured vehicles from army bases that they stormed.
“Settling accounts by force and acts of vengeance will not build a state,” Hadi said, addressing the rebels who had organised protests demanding the ouster of the government which they accused of corruption.
“Does fighting corruption and state-building come through pillaging houses, miliary bases and government institutions?” asked the president.
A security protocol to the accord would have required the rebels to hand over the institutions they seized and to start dismantling their armed protest camps in and around Sanaa once a new premier is named.
But rebel representatives refused to sign it.
President Hadi defended the deal without providing a clear reason for the lightening collapse of resistance.
“We were let down by those who put their interests above those of the homeland… those who abandoned their responsibilities and commitments,” he said.
Hadi appeared to be referring to backers of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped aside in February 2012 after a year of Arab Spring-inspired protests, but whose party still controls half of the government.
The Yemeni president has so far failed to name a new prime minister, although the latest agreement stipulated that one should have been appointed by Wednesday.
He has already appointed himself two advisers, one representing the rebels, and another for southern separatists, as required under the peace deal.
The agreement should be implemented “without procrastination” in order to advance towards a “civil and modern state, based on justice, equality and partnership,” said Hadi.
Yemeni authorities have repeatedly accused Iran of backing the rebels, who also appear influenced by Lebanon’s powerful Shiite militia Hezbollah, which is supported by Tehran.
Sunday’s deal is aimed at putting the troubled transition since Saleh’s ouster back on track in impoverished Yemen, which borders oil kingpin Saudi Arabia and is a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda.