Members of Yemen's parliament convened in the capital Sanaa on Saturday for the first time since a civil war began almost two years ago, in a move aimed at bolstering the rebel Houthi movement and challenging the Saudi-backed exiled government.The armed Houthis and their allies in the General People's Congress (GPC) party headed by powerful ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh control Sanaa and have withstood thousands of air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition.
After UN-backed peace talks to end the war collapsed last week, the Houthis and the GPC set up a governing council to rule the country despite UN and government opposition. All of the present members of parliament voted for the new council.
The Saudi backed presidnet Abed Rabbo al Mansour Hadi denounced the parliamentary session as a "violation" of the constitution and a "crime punishable by law", in remarks carried by the official Yemeni Saba news website. "Whatever takes place at this meeting has no legal effects and cannot be implemented," he said.
According to the constitution, more than half of the 301-member national assembly have to attend the session for voting to take place.
Sanaa airport has been closed since the Saudi coalition on Tuesday launched a wave of air raids in and around the capital, for the first time in three months. The raids had been halted as Kuwait hosted UN-brokered peace talks between and the Yemeni government and the Iran-backed Houthis and their allies. The talks collapsed last week after the rebels appointed their governing coalition. In July the Houthis and their allies rejected a UN peace plan that called on them to withdraw from territory they had occupied and give up heavy weapons seized from the army. The rebels said the plan did not meet their key demand for a unity government.
The United Nations says more than 6,400 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Yemen since the coalition air campaign began in March 2015.The fighting has driven 2.8 million people from their homes and left more than 80 percent of the population needing humanitarian aid.