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Yemen in Turmoil as President Resigns

by VOA News January 23, 2015

Yemen's political future remained uncertain Friday, with parliament reportedly planning to decide Sunday whether to accept the resignation of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.

President Hadi, Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and his Cabinet tendered their resignations Thursday, days after Houthi militia besieged key government positions in the capital, demanding changes to a draft constitution.

Citing a Facebook post by the prime minister, Reuters quoted him as saying the government does not want to be involved in 'an unconstructive political maze.'

Both pro- and anti-Houthi rallies were held Friday across Yemen, but reports from the capital say the situation was relatively calm.

Small anti-Houthi protests were held in Sana'a Friday, but reports from the city said the situation was otherwise relatively calm.

Speaking from Sana'a Thursday, U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar said the political crisis would only be resolved if the rival groups honor earlier agreements that call for power-sharing and an end to violence.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, expressed concern about the security situation in Yemen.

'Governance has been challenged by an al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist organization that has launched attacks inside and outside of the country, by a secessionist movement in the south, and most recently by a rebel movement in the north that has now spread across the country and challenged the sovereignty of the entire state,' he said.

The U.S. announced a reduction of its embassy staff in Sana'a but said it would not be closing the mission. Yemen is a key U.S. ally in the fight against al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Houthi rebels are opposed to AQAP, as well as the United States.

Houthis and government officials had appeared to reach agreement Wednesday, under which the rebels were to withdraw and release the president's chief of staff, who remains in the militia's custody. In exchange, Hadi, at the time surrounded by the rebels, pledged to scrap the draft constitutional changes.

The Houthi rebels seized de facto control of the capital in September, moving beyond their traditional rebellion in the north. Separatists continue to press their cause in the south, while militants from the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula continue to operate.

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