SANA’A: Tens of thousands of supporters of Yemen’s Shia rebels rallied yesterday in Sana’a to press for the government to step down, as a large number of its backers held a counter-demonstration.
Supporters of Shia rebel leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi have been threatening a “painful” escalation against the government which they accuse of corruption.
The UN Security Council called on the rebels to end their armed uprising and warned of sanctions.
Three days of talks last week between authorities and the Zaidi Shia rebels, known as Huthis or Ansarullah, failed to reach a deal to end the impoverished country’s latest political impasse.
“The people want the fall of the government. We will not back away. We will step up the pressure,” the protesters chanted as they rallied in northern Sanaa.
They massed on a road leading to Sana’a airport after the weekly Muslim prayers. At the same time, tens of thousands of government supporters rallied in southern Sana’a, calling for unity and solidarity with the cabinet.
Huthi’s followers want the resignation of the government, the scrapping of fuel price rises and a broader political partnership.
The rebels have had armed fighters camped around Sana’a for the past week and held protests almost throughout August. In a statement adopted unanimously, the 15-member UN Security Council condemned actions by the Houthis demanding the resignation of President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi’s government. The statement called on the rebels to “cease all armed hostilities against the government of Yemen” in the northern Al Jawf region, withdraw their forces from Amran and dismantle checkpoints and camps set up around Sana’a.