Hundreds rally in Yemen for ex-leader's son as president


MEE has previously reported that Ahmed Ali Saleh was the go-between for a UAE-funded operation that empowered the Houthis

Yemenis demonstrate outside the house of Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh and demand he run for president (AFP)
MEE and agencies's picture
Last update: 
Friday 13 March 2015 20:13 UTC

Hundreds rallied in Yemen's militia-controlled capital on Friday to call for presidential elections and demand the son of ex-strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh run as a candidate.

The rally comes a day after Houthis reportedly held military exercises at Saudi's border, accusing the neighbouring country of interfering Yemen. 

Sanaa has been under the control of the Shiite militia, known as Houthis, since September and President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi has fled to the southern city of Aden after escaping house arrest in the capital last month.

Saleh, who stepped down in February 2012 after a year-long popular uprising, has been accused of backing the Houthis, who are from the same Zaidi sect of Shiite Islam as the ex-leader.

Last October, a source told Middle East Eye that the father and son had systematically attempted to derail Yemen's transition with funding from the United Arab Emirates.

The plan, which started to be formulated in 2012, was to use the family's clout among tribal leaders and army chiefs to allow the Houthis to go on a rampage in north Yemen, according to the source.

Ahmed Ali Saleh, Yemen's ambassador to the UAE, according to the source, was the go-between for the operation.

On Friday, gathered in Sabiin Square in Sanaa's southern district and near the residence of Saleh's son Ahmed, demonstrators chanted "The next president is Ahmed" and "Ahmed is our president".

The demonstration went by without incident, a day after Houthis shot dead two protesters taking part in a rally in support of Western- and Gulf-backed Hadi.

Vehicles with loudspeakers urging Yemenis to join the pro-Ahmed rally circulated in Sanaa for two days before the demonstration.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, of which the UAE is a member, had repeatedly slammed the Houthis' "coup d'etat" in Yemen and voiced support for Hadi.

During his father's rule, Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh was commander of the elite Republican Guard troops, a body that was dissolved by Hadi. Most of its soldiers however remained loyal to Ahmed.