Yemeni parliament ratifies Higher Political Council as a legitimate ruler
Sanaa, Yemen (Xinhua + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Yemen’s parliament unanimously ratified Saturday the “Higher Political Council” to unilaterally rule the country, lifting the power and legitimacy of the internationally recognized exiled president and his government, the Houthi rebels-controlled state TV reported.
The parliament held its extraordinary session with 143 members out of 301 attending.
The quorum is completed as the 143 lawmakers formed the majority to take the decision officially because there were 26 of the 301 members had died and have not been replaced with new elected ones due to the civil war since 2014, the TV cited Parliament Speaker Yahya al-Raiee as saying.
“The Council of Representatives unanimously recognizes, ratifies and blesses the formation of the Higher Political council to rule the country from it’s geographically far north to Aden in the south, and from east to the west of Yemen’s official borders,” Parliament Speaker al-Raiee and the attending MPs voted with “Yes” as showed by the state TV.
The vote legally stripped internationally recognized exiled President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi along with his government out of office, according to the attending parliamentarians.
Late on Friday, Hadi warned the parliament of taking such a step, threatening to hold them accountable and subject them to punishment.
The ruling council was declared and formed on Aug. 6 between former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party and Shiite Houthi armed group following the breakdown of peace talks with their foes in Kuwait.
It is made up of 10 senior officials, who dominate the decision making in the country, and was declared in a ceremony in the presidential palace in the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.
Senior Houthi leader Saleh al-Sumad was elected as council president and Kasim Labuzah of former president’s General People’s Congress party as vice-president, according to Houthi-controlled Saba news agency.
They said the council’s next mission is to form a new “national government.”
The escalating move came after UN-sponsored peace talks with their foes of internationally recognized government of President Hadi in Kuwait collapsed after over three months of fruitless negotiations to end years-long civil war.
The civil war and airstrikes of Saudi-led military coalition have killed over 6,400 people, mostly civilians and displaced more than two other millions.
Saudi Arabia intervened in support of President Hadi and his government in March 2015 after the Houthis and Saleh forces expelled them to Riyadh, the Saudi capital.
However, Saudi-led military coalition has failed to force bring back exiled President Hadi and his government to the office in Sanaa.
Sanaa and most of northern and southern provinces have been under tighten control of Houthi and Saleh armed forces since September 2014 when they stormed the capital and other major cities.
Saudi-led coalition warplanes launched three airstrikes few kilometers away from the Parliament building simultaneously with the Parliament session vote to approve the new ruling political council.
No casualties were reported, as Saturday airstrikes marked the fifth consecutive day of aerial bombing on the Houthi-held capital Sanaa.
Fighting in Yemen kills over 3,700 civilians since March of last year: UN
Ground battles and airstrikes in Yemen have killed 3,704 civilians and injured 6,566 since March of 2015 when Saudi Arabia led a military coalition against the Houthis and Saleh’s forces, a UN official said on Friday.
Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told a press briefing here on Friday that the number of civilian casualties in Yemen has been steadily mounting over the past few weeks.
“Despite the cessation of hostilities, between April 11 and August 11 of this year, we have documented 815 civilian casualties, including 272 deaths and 543 injured,” she said, adding that of these 49 civilians were killed and another 77 injured in just the past week.
She told reporters that only several days ago, on Aug. 9, an airstrike hit Al Khafifa food factory in the Al Nahdhah district of Sana’a, killing 10 civilians, including three women who worked in the factory.
According to her, a journalist was reportedly struck by two shells on Aug. 5.
Yemen has been locked in a civil war since the Houthis seized power and overturned the Yemeni government in late 2014.
In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition launched a bombing campaign to restore the legitimacy of the government. However, the military intervention has deepened the conflict and crises across the country.