Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s Houthi movement has given embattled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi just 10 days to form a new government, warning that the Shi’ite movement will take unspecified additional “options” if the deadline is not met.
Despite granting Hadi a 10-day deadline, Houthi fighters continued their move to expand their presence in Yemen on Friday and Saturday. Houthi rebels attacked the headquarters of the Islamist Al-Islah Party in Yemen’s Ibb province, killing at least four guards and blowing up the building.
Speaking on Friday at a meeting of Houthi supporters in Sana’a, Sheikh Daifallah Rassam said: “The president has 10 days as a final chance to form a government. Otherwise, our next meeting will be at the headquarters of decision-making.” Rassam is head of the popular cohesion tribal council in Saada and a senior member of the Houthi movement.
Other senior Houthi figures called for the establishment of a “National Salvation Council” to take over rule of the country if a new government cannot be formed. “All revolutionary options are open” if Hadi fails to meet this deadline, the Shi’ite group warned.
The Houthi escalation comes as talks over the formation of the new government, led by Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, remain stalled over the distribution of ministerial portfolios. A UN-backed deal that saw a power-sharing agreement between the ruling party, the Houthis and representatives of Yemen’s disgruntled south was signed earlier this year. Despite Khaled Bahah being agreed by the parties as a consensus figure more than two weeks ago, disputes have emerged over cabinet appointments.
In light of the deteriorating security situation inside the country, and the ongoing political stalemate, ten of Yemen’s western and international allies issued a statement on Saturday calling on the Houthis to stop their advance and allow the government to carry out its duties without threat or intervention.
“We stress the importance of having a qualified government able to show integrity, competence, impartiality and commitment to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law”, the statement by the Group of Ten Ambassadors said. The Group of Ten Ambassadors are the representatives of the 10 states that backed the power-transfer deal that saw Hadi replace former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The statement called on the Houthis to “stop their continuous campaign to seize government and military institutions and to bring back the military equipment they seized,” according to Yemen’s state SABA news agency.
While a Yemeni official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, said that government salaries were not paid to civil servants for the month of October after the Houthis took over control of the Ministry of Finance in Sana’a.