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Yemen rebels convene parliament to defy Saudi-backed exiled government, Hadi denounces session

The fighting in Yemen has driven 2.8 million people from their homes and left more than 80 per cent of the population needing humanitarian aid, the UN says. Photograph: (Getty)

Agencies Sanaa, Yemen Aug 13, 2016, 03.17 PM (IST)
Iran-backed rebels convened Yemen's parliament today in defiance of the internationally recognised government, prompting condemnation from President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.

The session in rebel-held Sanaa was the first time parliament has convened in almost two years and comes after the Huthis rejected a UN peace plan and appointed a council to run the country.

Parliamentary sources said that 91 lawmakers in the 301-member national assembly attended the session. All voted in favour of the council which was created last week.

The Huthi rebels overran Sanaa in September 2014 and then fought their way into other parts of Yemen, forcing Hadi and his government into exile in Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi-led coalition has been fighting the Huthis and their allies - supporters of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh - since March last year to shore up the Hadi government.

After Sanaa's capture, many parliamentarians also sought refuge in other towns or overseas.

Political and security sources in Sanaa told AFP that some lawmakers were forced to attend today's session after rebel threats, but without elaborating.

Parliament chief Yehya al-Raie, a leading figure in Saleh's General People's Congress party, urged all MPs "outside the country to review their positions" and invited them to retake their seats.

Hadi labels session 'a violation of constitution' 

Hadi denounced the session as a "violation" of the constitution and a "crime punishable by law", in remarks carried by the official website.

"Whatever takes place at this meeting has no legal effects and cannot be implemented," he said.

According to the constitution, more than 150 lawmakers must be present for a vote to be held.

Armed rebels were inside parliament for today's session, which was held as coalition warplanes pounded military targets around Sanaa, parliamentary sources said.

UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has described the rebel governing council as a violation of commitments to the peace process.

Last week, he suspended UN-brokered talks between rebels and the government.

The UN says that more than 6,400 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Yemen since the coalition air campaign began in March last year.

Arab coalition air strikes have hit rebel positions across northern Yemen as well in as the southwestern province of Taez as ground fighting raged on.

The United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said in a statement yesterday he was "deeply alarmed by the intensification of violence across the country".

"The people of Yemen continue to bear the brunt of the suffering as a result of the inability of the parties to find a political solution" to the conflict, he said.

"The return to full-scale hostilities only drives humanitarian needs further," he said.

The fighting in Yemen has driven 2.8 million people from their homes and left more than 80 per cent of the population needing humanitarian aid, the UN says.

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