World, Middle East

Yemen’s Houthi-appointed PM tenders resignation

Move indicates growing rift between Shia Houthi militia group and allied forces loyal to former president

06.04.2017
Yemen’s Houthi-appointed PM tenders resignation FILE PHOTO

By Zakaria al-Kamaali

SANAA

Yemen’s Houthi-appointed “prime minister” has resigned from his post to protest what he has reportedly described as “interference” by Houthi officials in his governing duties, according to Yemeni sources.

Abdulaziz bin Habtoor, head of Yemen’s “National Salvation Government” (established late last year by the Shia Houthi militia and allied forces loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh), reportedly submitted his resignation on Wednesday to Saleh al-Sammad, head of the Houthi-run Supreme Political Council.

According to sources close to bin Habtoor, the Houthi-appointed PM decided to tender his resignation after Houthi militiamen on Tuesday stormed the headquarters of the General Authority for Social Security and Pensions in Sanaa.

After breaking into the building, militiamen reportedly took over the establishment and seized funds intended for pensioners.

Bin Habtoor’s resignation suggests a growing rift between the Houthis -- who control most of the National Salvation Government’s ministries and institutions -- and their pro-Saleh allies, both of which are represented in bin Habtoor’s government.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency anonymously due to restrictions on talking to media, the same sources said that bin Habtour had repeatedly complained that his authority as prime minister was being undermined by the Houthis.

They also noted that al-Sammad had previously overturned several decisions issued by bin Habtour in his capacity as head of the government.

The so-called National Salvation Government was drawn up last November by the Houthis and their pro-Saleh allies, drawing criticism from the international community, which has refused to recognize it.

Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN’s Yemen envoy, has described the Houthi-Saleh government as “an obstacle to peace”.

Yemen has remained wracked by chaos since 2014, when the Houthis and their allies overran capital Sanaa and other parts of the country, forcing President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and his internationally-recognized, Saudi-backed government to temporarily flee to Riyadh.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies launched a massive military campaign aimed at reversing Houthi military gains in Yemen and restoring Hadi’s embattled government.

Last year, Hadi’s government and the Houthis held several rounds of UN-sponsored peace talks, which failed to yield any significant breakthroughs.

According to UN figures, the ongoing conflict has left thousands dead and hundreds of thousands displaced.

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