Dec 16, 2014 9:15 AM

Yemen government confidence vote derailed

The Associated Press

SANAA, Yemen (AP) A raucous session of the Yemeni parliament came to an abrupt end Tuesday after loyalists of the ousted president derailed a vote of confidence on the new government's program, an official said.

Also on Tuesday, Shiite rebel gunmen, who seized control of Sanaa in September, surrounded the ministry of defense and packed the city's nearby streets, preventing the minister from accessing his office. A day earlier, the minister had kicked out the rebels from around the ministry for blocking his chief of staff from entering.

The government called for an emergency session to discuss the security situation.

Yemen has been gripped by a power struggle between President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the empowered Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who allied with his predecessor, ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The rebels moved on the capital, seizing control of it in September to press Hadi to form a new government that would give them more say in the country's political affairs. Since then, wrangling over the makeup of the new government as well as the Houthis' military expansion around the capital and other strategic provinces have driven the country deeper into turmoil.

Saleh and his loyalists, who form the majority in parliament, accuse Hadi of backing U.N. sanctions against the former leader and two top rebels, and had called on the government to explicitly denounce them. They have dismissed Hadi from the party leadership as a retaliation.

The government, headed by Khaled Bahah, had said it would respect the sanctions.

In Tuesday's session, a parliament official said ruling party members didn't openly decline to vote for the government program. Instead, disputes broke out about internal party affairs, forcing the speaker of the house to call off the session. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to brief reporters.

The U.N. Security Council approved last month a freeze of all assets and a global travel ban on Saleh, the rebel group's military commander, Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi, and the Houthi's second-in-command, Abdullah Yahya al Hakim.


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