Houthis consolidate control over Yemen state institutions

Published December 18, 2014
Houthi rebels ride on a patrol truck in Sanaa. — Reuters/File
Houthi rebels ride on a patrol truck in Sanaa. — Reuters/File

SANAA: Yemen’s Houthi movement sacked top managers of the country’s second largest port and the main oil company on Wednesday, staff said, in the latest move by the Huthis group to consolidate its hold on state institutions.

The Houthis, who became the de facto power in Yemen in September when they captured the capital Sanaa, portray their move as a revolution against corruption and embezzlement which they say was emptying state coffers.

Officials at Hodeida port said Houthi fighters on Wednesday blocked the director of the facility, Yemen’s main Red Sea harbour where most of the country’s food imports arrive, with a view to replacing him.

“The staff were so angry that they walked out in a demonstration and closed off the port,” a port official said by telephone.

Later on Wednesday, about 20 Houthi fighters broke into the state-run Safer oil company in Sanaa, kicked out the director and his deputy and locked their offices, company officials said.

Yemeni officials said the moves appear to be part of a systematic drive by the Houthis to tighten their grip on power, bypassing the government nominated by Prime Minister Khaled Bahah in November.

Western powers are worried about the volatile situation in Yemen, which shares a long border with oil giant Saudi Arabia and is fighting Al Qaeda militants and separatists in the south.

Officials say the Houthis are getting support from former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was sanctioned last month by the U.N. Security Council for threatening Yemen’s peace and stability, a charge he has denied.

“It is clear that the Houthis, together with Ali Abdullah Saleh, are completing their (September) 21 coup,” said Sultan al-Atwani, an adviser to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Published in Dawn December 18th , 2014

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