Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Several of Yemen’s political parties have said they will boycott talks with the Houthi movement sponsored by the UN to reach a solution for the nationwide crisis, claiming conditions are unwelcome following the Shi’ite group’s recent power grab.
Key blocs from the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), a coalition of Yemeni Leftist and Islamist opposition parties, pulled out of talks with the Houthis, also known as Ansar Allah, on Monday in protest against the group’s heavy-handed tackling of protesters in Sana’a, as well as calling on President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi to withdraw his resignation.
President Hadi, who has been under virtual house arrest for almost a week, resigned on Thursday, the same day his prime minister, Khaled Bahah, stood down and dissolved the cabinet following pressures from the Houthis.
Mohammed Mosed Al-Rada’i, the assistant secretary-general of the Nasserist Unionist People’s Organization and a member of the JMP, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There cannot be any dialogue or understanding [with the Houthis] in the absence of preparations, on one side. On the other, there have been arrests, with officials under house arrest, which does not allow for the existence of dialogue or sitting on the same [negotiation] table.”
The official said his party is in contact with all Yemeni political factions in a bid to reach a solution to the current crisis.
Yemen’s political parties are still divided on a solution to the crisis, the official maintained. While some have suggested President Hadi withdraw his resignation in exchange for restrictions on him and the Houthis, others are in favor of the formation of a presidential council to run the country’s affairs.
Rada’i attributed the political crisis to “Hadi’s mistakes and a monopoly of decision-making as well as Ansar Allah’s use of force and interference in the affairs of government bodies and institutions.”
He called for the implementation of the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference and the end of all acts of violence in Sana’a by Houthis.
Forming a presidential council requires a constitutional declaration which would encourage the secession of the south, he said, and warned this would also require “a constitutional declaration which would have repercussions not only on the political and security levels but also on the economy of Yemen.”
As a precondition for resuming talks with the Houthis, the JMP is demanding that the Shi’ite group restore freedom of speech, end the house arrest of officials, release presidential chief of staff Ahmed Bin Mubarak, and renounce all violence.
The 10 backers of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) initiative on Monday expressed their deep concern over the excessive use of violence and the undermining of legitimate government institutions in Yemen.
In a statement on Monday, the group—the US, Russia, China, the UK, France and five GCC states—said: “Yemen has suffered enough and is still facing major humanitarian and security challenges, including armed militias operating outside the framework of the government and the setting up of irregular checkpoints, as well as threats by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”
The statement was also signed by the ambassadors a number of ambassadors in Yemen including those of Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain.