Yemen's Shiite rebel group refuses to stop rallies

AP News
Posted: Aug 24, 2014 6:55 AM
Yemen's Shiite rebel group refuses to stop rallies

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen's Shiite rebel group called for new protests Sunday after rejecting a draft proposal by a presidential delegation to stop their demonstrations in return for a new government and a review of the country's economic policies.

The delegation had negotiated with the Hawthis in the northern city of Saada, hoping to end the massive protests now challenging the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The delegation's proposals included installing a new government and revisiting a decision to end government fuel subsidies in the Arab world's poorest country.

On July 30, Hadi's government ended the subsidies, nearly doubling fuel prices and sparking the protests by the Hawthis that have seen them set up tents near ministries in Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

The presidential delegation's proposal was "met with rejection, intransigence and insistence on ignoring the reality and the risks," delegation spokesman Abdel-Malek al-Mikhlafi wrote on his official Facebook page Sunday. He said the committee will make the draft public after meeting with Hadi.

Meanwhile, the Hawthis called for new rallies Sunday. The group has been holding protests since Monday.

In response, Yemen's government deployed more security forces on the main streets in Sanaa leading to government ministries, its central bank and other government offices.

The Hawthis waged a six-year insurgency in the north against former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh that officially ended in 2010. After Saleh's ouster, they have fought ultraconservative Islamists in several northern cities and towns, accusing them of turning their strongholds into incubators of extremism.

Yemen's international allies have called on the Hawthis to end the protests, warning they could be construed as "antagonistic, militaristic and disrespectful." The protests come as Yemen continues to battle militants and the country's local al-Qaida branch, considered by the U.S. to be the world's most dangerous offshoot of the terror group.