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Yemen presidential aide says Houthis plotting to bring down government

Reuters , Tuesday 16 Dec 2014
Abdul-Malik al-Houthi
A follower of the Shi'ite Houthi movement holds up a poster of the movement's leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi during an anti-government demonstration in Sanaa August 24, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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An aide to Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi said on Monday that the Shi'ite Houthi faction was plotting to bring down the government, after the group accused the president of sanctioning corruption and demanded to monitor state spending.

The Houthis took control of Yemen's capital Sanaa on Sept. 21 and have penetrated state institutions, but Hadi remains head of state. He has since been trying to appease the group while also working to shore up the authority of the state.

Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, in a speech to tribal leaders on Monday evening at his headquarters in Sanaa, said the president was at the forefront of corruption in the country.

"During the popular revolution and the popular escalation, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was at the forefront of the forces of corruption in insulting the Yemeni people," Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said, referring to anti-government protests led by the group before it captured the capital.

"I here tell him that the Yemeni people is truly a great people, forgiving and generous, but they will not be indifferent forever," he added in a speech at his stronghold in Saada in northern Yemen. He was speaking to leaders of the Khawlan, one of the tribes that supported his movement in its gradual rise to prominence.

A senior source at Hadi's office, asked for his reaction, said the speech showed the Houthis were plotting to bring down Hadi's administration and "complete their takeover of the state".

"The speech was void of the political dialogue (necessary to address) the head of state and therefore we expect that the group (Houthis) has prepared another plot similar to the one it had when it captured Sanaa," the official, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters.

Houthi said committees he had set up to oversee ministries after Sanaa's fall had uncovered attempts by unidentified officials to conduct an inventory of state assets and to "divide billions" of rials among themselves in the process.

He also demanded that the 2015 state budget be subject to "close review in order to stop it being an additional massive support for the corrupt and abusers".

The Houthi leader demanded that the government turn over control of state bodies to "rebels to monitor, follow up and ensure that people's funds are not wasted."

"Fighting corruption is a primary issue and there is no wavering from that ...," he said.

Hadi's administration is due to draw up the 2015 budget but the Houthis are trying to exert influence via committees they have set up.

The Houthis, officially known as Ansarullah, say their September move on Sanaa was aimed at rooting out corruption and bringing fairness in national politics.

They have friendly ties to Iran, the main Shi'ite power in the region and foe of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni monarchies of the Gulf. Their Zaydi Shi'ite sect is related to but separate from the sect practiced in Iran.

The group captured Sanaa almost unopposed on Sept. 21 and has since expanded south and west of the capital, where they have faced resistance from Sunni Muslim tribes and al Qaeda.

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