Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemeni Justice Minister Murshid Al-Arashani said on Wednesday that the country’s government cannot resign until a prime minister-designate has been tasked with forming a new cabinet, as Yemen’s Houthis continued to protest in the capital Sana’a.
Arashani’s comments come after Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi offered to form a new national unity government in an attempt to end protests by the Shi’ite Houthi movement over an unpopular decision to cut fuel subsidies. However, the Houthis continued to protest on Wednesday after rejecting the deal, with protesters reportedly brandishing arms and batons in Sana’a while using tires and cement blocks to divert traffic.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Sana’a, the Yemeni justice minister said the judiciary was yet to receive any calls for the dismissal or resignation of the government, adding that it was the Yemeni constitution that defined the procedure under which the government could resign.
Yemen’s state SABA news agency denied that Prime Minister Mohamed Salim Basindawa had resigned on Wednesday, quoting an informed source in the prime minister’s office. Reports that Basindawa had resigned to make way for a new national unity government were false and aimed to create further confusion in Yemen, the source said.
Arashani told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The Houthi movement is operating outside the law. It has tried to impose its legitimacy through the law governing political parties in order to achieve its objectives and goals . . . in line with the Iranian schemes which aim to undermine the security of Yemen.”
Arashani called on Yemen’s Arab neighbors to help Sana’a “confront” Iran, which he claimed was backing the Houthis.
President Hadi earlier launched a scathing attack on Iran, accusing it of supporting the Houthis. Last week, he said: “Iran heavily interferes in Yemen’s affairs and there are four groups affiliated to it that are working against Yemen, and there are Iranian advisers [working for Houthi leader] Abdul Malik Al-Houthi.”
Yemen’s Houthi movement has strongly rejected claims that it is affiliated to Tehran. Houthi spokesman Ali Al-Bukhaiti previously told Asharq Al-Awsat: “There are no Iranian experts in the areas where we [the Houthis] are present, and we do not need any such experts. The Yemeni people are well-versed in such media tactics, and I believe that such propaganda claims [against the Houthis] have been present for more than 10 years.”