Fighters loyal to the Shiite Houthi group gather at a camp outside Sanaa, Yemen, on Sept. 2, 2014. Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi will replace the government and called for a national unity administration, in a move to calm down the recent spate of protests, the official Saba news agency reported Tuesday. (Xinhua/Mohammed Mohammed)
SANAA, Sept. 2 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi will replace the government and called for a national unity administration, in a move to calm down the recent spate of protests, the official Saba news agency reported Tuesday.
Hadi will "name a new prime minister within a week" and assign him to form a national unity government, Saba reported, adding that the president is authorized to appoint ministers of defence, interior, foreign and finance in the new cabinet.
The president said the government will reduce fuel prices by 25 Yemeni riyals (0.12 U.S. dollars) per litre to appease the mass protests which were triggered by a steep increase in the fuel prices at the end of July.
This compromised initiative was made to resolve prolonged standoff with Shiite Houthi rebels who have been camping in and around the capital Sanaa for weeks, demanding the dismissal of the government and cut of fuel price hike.
"This initiative does not reflect our weakness, rather we are ready for any alternative to address the rebellion," Hadi was quoted by Saba as saying at a conference in Sanaa on Tuesday.
According to Saba, Hadi called on the Shiite Houthi leadership to withdraw fighters from inside and around Sanaa, retreat from the northern province of Amran and cease fire against the army in neighbouring province of al-Jawf.
However, Mohammed Abdulsalam, the spokesman of the Shiite Houthi rebels, rejected the initiative in a statement posted on the group's website, saying that "we are not going to dilute the national issues of our people."
A source close to the presidential committee told Xinhua that the Houthi group agreed on the initiative Monday night, but surprisingly they rejected it on Tuesday after Hadi's announcement, adding that the Houthi group considered the cut of fuel price by 25 riyals per litre is not acceptable.
The government on July 30 raised the price of petrol from 125 Yemeni riyals (0.58 U.S. dollar) to 200 riyals per litre (0.93 dollar) and diesel from 100 riyals (0.47 dollar) to 195 riyals (0. 91 dollar), sparking angry protests across the country.
Hadi has dispatched a presidential committee to hold talks with the Houthi leader in Saada province, the rebels' stronghold in northern Yemen, to end the crisis late August. He offered during the talks to include Houthi members in the future cabinet and allow them in broad political partnership.
Tens of thousands of supporters of the Houthi group rallied in Sanaa since early Auguest, demanding the government to resume fuel subsidies and resignation of the cabinet. The protesters also set up sit-in tents around several ministries. Meanwhile, the Houthi group also mobilized tens of thousands of armed fighters at entrances of Sanaa.
The Houthi group has fought against the Yemeni army in the country's northern regions for years. Last month they seized Amran province, some 50 km north of Sanaa, after nine months of sporadic fighting with the army, during which hundreds of people were killed and tens of thousands displaced.
Hadi has urged Houthis to leave Amran and promised to provide five billion Yemeni rials (23 million dollars) to rebuild the provincial capital city.
Taking advantage of the security vacuum since 2011, the Shiite Houthi group have since expanded its control over northern provinces. The group has controlled the northern Saada province since August, 2010, when it signed a ceasefire deal with the government and ended a six-year intermittent war.