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UN calls for Yemeni president to be restored after Houthi takeover

Following the Houthis' announcement of a transitory presidential council, Ban Ki-moon backs restoration of Yemen's president
Yemeni soldiers and Houthi militiamen stand guard at the entrance of the Presidential Palace following a blast in Sanaa on 07 February, 2015 (AFP)

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called for the reinstatement of Yemen’s ousted President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. 


“The situation is very, very seriously deteriorating with the Houthis taking power and making this government vacuum,” Ban told reporters, during a visit to Saudi Arabia.


His comments follow on from statements made by the UN Security Council President Liu Jieyi who warned that the council’s members were prepared to “take further steps” if the UN-brokered negotiations to resolve Yemen’s political crisis was not resumed “immediately".

The Houthis had dissolved the Sanaa government and parliament on Friday and announced the establishment up of a presidential council to run the country. On Sunday, they installed one of their leaders, Mahmoud al-Junaid, as Yemen’s chief of staff after raiding the presidential office.

Junaid was appointed in place of Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, who was previously kidnapped by the Houthis for ten days before being released at the end of last month. The Houthis had seized control of the presidential palace on 20 January, which sparked a crisis that drew heavy criticism from within Yemen and also internationally.

The General People’s Congress Party, which is led by former President Ali Abdullah Saleh who stepped down in 2012 amidst widespread protests calling for an end to his rule, described the Houthis’ constitutional declaration as a “violation” of the Yemini constitution and the 2011 GCC initiative.

“The declaration was surprising to us,” the party, which has so far been seen as supportive of the Houthi movement, said in a statement.

The GPC statement came a day after large scale protests erupted in parts of Yemen, calling for the parliament to be reinstated. 

The Arab League also condemned the Houthi move, with Arab League head Nabil al-Arabi, labelling the Houthis’ developments as a “coup”.

“The so-called constitutional declaration is a coup against constitutional legitimacy and an attempt to forcibly impose the will of the Houthi group on the people of Yemen,” he said.

Arabi called for the release of Hadi and Bahah, who are rumoured to be under house arrest by the Houthis, adding that Yemen will collapse into violence if the Houthis continue to take matters solely into their own hands.

The Houthis, however, defended the establishment of the new bodies.

“This historic and responsible initiative is in the interest of the country because it fills a political vacuum,” the Houthi leader Abdel Malek al-Houthi said in an televised address.