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Houthi leader calls on supporters to topple Yemeni government

A leader of the Shia Houthi insurgent group, Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi, has called on his supporters to protest on Monday in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, as well as in other cities across the country, to demand the overthrow of the government, Anadolu news agency reported.

During a televised speech broadcast by Almaseera television channel on Sunday, Al-Houthi reportedly gave an ultimatum to the Yemeni authorities to dismiss the government by next Friday, warning that otherwise he will escalate to other options that he did not specify.

Al-Houthi criticised the government, accusing it of “failing” and of making “false” promises without realising any of them.

He described his supporters’ efforts as “the great protest that shall take place on the warning day”.

He explained that his group would organise marches and protests in Sanaa and the various provinces to put pressure on the Yemeni authorities to dismiss the government, calling on members of the military and security forces to “stand with their people and refuse being used as tools by the corrupt oppressors of the Yemeni people”.

Al-Houthi also called to implement the outcomes of the comprehensive national dialogue, which concluded on 25 January and was attended by 35 members of his group.

The Yemeni authorities have not issued any official comment on Al-Houthi’s message.

The Yemeni Interior Ministry ordered earlier to tighten security measures in the areas surrounding the capital and to enhance the existing services in that region.

The ministry, in a statement posted to its website, warned that it would “prevent the entry of any weapon into the capital Sanaa, including licensed weapons, and increase the state of vigilance amongst the security forces to apprehend the wanted and inspect suspicious cars, in order to preserve the security and stability of the capital”.

The Shia Houthi insurgent group has mainly been based in the northern province of Saada since 2011, after six confrontations with the regime of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh between 2004 and 2009. The group’s influence expanded after the outbreak of the revolution in February 2011, which overthrew Saleh the following year.

The group fought a war to control the neighbouring Amran governorate, 50 km from the capital Sanaa, in July.

For more than two weeks the group has been fighting with army troops, with confrontations reaching regions close to the capital, but ending with agreements under the auspices of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who was a member of the old regime.

The Houthis are a Zaidi Shia insurgent group established in 1992 by Hussein Badr Al-Houthi, who was killed by government forces in mid 2004. This led to six wars between the group stationed in the Saada province and government forces, leaving thousands dead on both sides. The group is viewed as an extension of the Yemeni monarchy, which was present in the north of Yemen before the revolution of 26 September 1962, which unseated the ruling Zaidi Imam. Houthis say that they have suffered from discrimination ever since.

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