Thousands rally in Yemen against Houthi militia | News | DW | 24.01.2015
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Thousands rally in Yemen against Houthi militia

Thousands of Yemenis have staged a rally in the capital, Sanaa, to protest against a Shiite group that has seized power there. The country is in political limbo after its president resigned this week.

Saturday's demonstration in Sanaa was the largest to date against the Houthis, a Shiite militia that overran the capital of the predominantly Sunni country in September.

The protest, which witnesses said drew up to 10,000 people, was called by the Rejection Movement, a group that recently formed in provincial areas to challenge the militia.

Witnesses said Houthi fighters and police did not try to obstruct the protest.

The marching protesters shouted chants denouncing both the Shiite Houthi group and the predominantly Sunni al Qaeda terrorist network. They also decried former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was toppled in a 2011 uprising after being in power for 33 years. Saleh, however, still has considerable influence. The United Nations Security Council accuses Saleh of having helped the Houthis capture Sanaa.

'Total deadlock'

The organizing committee said demonstrators first marched toward the Republican Palace, the residence of Prime Minister Khalid Bahah, who left it on Wednesday for an unknown destination after a two-day siege by the Houthi militia.

They said protesters then changed direction to head toward the residence of President Abed Rabbo Hadi, who tendered his resignation on Thursday, saying he was unable to rule in what he called a "total deadlock."

The Houthis had virtually held Hadi prisoner at his home this week after accusing him of reneging on a power-sharing agreement they signed with the main political parties after seizing the capital.

Parliament first rejected Hadi's resignation but is due to discuss the issue again at a special session on Sunday.

Widespread protests

Organizers of Saturday's protest said large demonstrations were held in the cities of Taez, Ibb and Hudaida.

Heavy fighting this week between government forces and Houthi militiamen killed at least 35 people.

The Houthis are still holding Hadi's chief of staff, Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, in what is thought to be a bid to prevent constitutional changes that would divide Yemen into six federal regions.

tj/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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