Thursday, September 4, 2014
Yemeni president proposes to disband government and reinstate fuel subsidies, but Houthis continue protest
Houthi supporters block a road in Sanaa on 3 September. The Houthis have been protesting in Sanaa for weeks. (Foto Reuters)
Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi dismissed the government Tuesday and agreed to reinstate fuel subsidies, in addition to other economic reforms, seeking to end weeks of tense protests led by tens of thousands of Houthi loyalists in the capital, Sanaa.
Government sources told Reuters that Hadi had dismissed his government, suggested a national unity administration and planned to reduce petrol and diesel prices by 30 percent to offset unpopular cuts to fuel subsidies, which had drained Yemeni coffers but buoyed impoverished citizens.
However, the Houthis dismissed the move. Mohammed Abdulsalam, a spokesman for Houthi leader Abdulmalek al-Houthi, said in a statement on his Facebook page: "We do not agree to it. Our position is still that we (stand) by the Yemeni people who have gone out in a blessed popular revolution to demand their legitimate and just rights."
A member of the Houthis' political bureau, Abdel Malik al-Ijri, told Reuters: "What was demanded was a cancellation of the fuel price rise, and the lowering which was announced today represents nothing."
Tens of thousands of Houthi supporters have been rallying for weeks to demand that a recently approved oil subsidy reform be revoked and that the government step down before they agree to lift their tents from Sanaa and the outskirts.
The President's initiative also called on the Houthis to withdraw fighters from Amran province and an immediate end of clashes in the northern Jawf province.Ali al-Bukaiti, a top leader of the Houthis, said that Houthi supporters, who follow the Zaidi sect of Islam, will not be tricked by the government's light reforms and that their demands are clear.
On Monday, hours after Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi announced escalating the protests, Hadi sent Sanaa Mayor Abdul-Qadir Hilal to Saada province to give dialogue a final chance. Government committees that held talks with Houthi leaders over the previous two weeks didn't resolve the political tension.
In a televised speech Sunday, al-Houthi said that his supporters would continue to protest and that at the right time, he would announce more stages of escalation.