Former agriculture minister named as leader of General People's Congress in party statement that does not mention Saleh's exiled son
The party of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh have named a new leader after he was killed last month by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, his one-time allies in the country's civil war.
Questions have arisen over where the loyalty of the General People's Congress (GPC) fighters lay after Saleh was killed in a roadside attack after switching sides, abandoning the Houthis in favour of the Saudi-led coalition.
The announcement of the new GPC leader on Sunday condemned the Saudi "aggression" and said the party would keep resisting, but did not mention the Houthis. It said Sadeq Amin Abou Rass, a former agriculture minister, had succeeded Saleh.
Saleh's exiled son, Ahmed Ali Saleh, had vowed to lead a campaign against the Houthi movement after his father was killed, but the statement on Sunday did not mention his name either.
Yemen’s war, pitting the Houthis, who control the capital Sanaa, against the Saudi-led military alliance backing a different government based in the south, has resulted in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
"What happened [Saleh's killing] will not prompt us to make peace with the aggressors against the sovereignty, the dignity and the freedom of our great Yemeni people," the statement said.
It also called for releasing all the party's prisoners, including Saleh's family members and employees of his TV channel Yemen al-Yawm, detained by the Houthis - held after Saleh switched sides.
The statement also said the party remained open to all Yemeni factions and national reconciliation.
The Saudi-led coalition has called on party members to join the internationally recognised government and offered an amnesty to its fighters.
For months, the Houthis have retaliated with attacks on Saudi Arabia from its mountainous strongholds in northern Yemen and has launched around a dozen ballistic missiles at the kingdom, all of which were intercepted.
On Sunday, the group said it shot down a Saudi warplane over their northern Yemeni stronghold of Saada.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, however, said the plane had technical problems before crashing and that two crew members were rescued unharmed.