7 Feb 2015

Yemen rebels announce takeover

11:08 am on 7 February 2015

Yemen's Shia Houthi rebel movement has announced it is taking over the government and dissolving parliament.

Members of the Shia Houthi movement.

Members of the Shia Houthi movement. Photo: AFP

In a televised statement, the group said a five-member council would act as the president for an interim period.

The group took control of the capital Sanaa in September, forcing the resignation of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in January.

The announcement comes after the failure of UN-brokered peace talks.

The Houthis set a Wednesday deadline for political parties to reach an agreement on ending the country's political turmoil, threatening to act unilaterally otherwise.

The rebels move would mark "a new era that will take Yemen to safe shores'', the statement said, according to Associated Press.

The situation in Yemen escalated last month when the Houthis seized a key aide of President Hadi, in an attempt to block a draft constitution.

They later took the presidential palace and other key buildings, prompting Mr Hadi's resignation. He said he could not continue in his post under such pressure.

Yemeni soldiers guard the presidential palace in the capital Sanaa.

Yemeni soldiers guard the presidential palace in the capital Sanaa. Photo: AFP

He and and other ministers have been under house arrest since then.

Iran has been accused of giving financial and military support to the Houthis - something both have denied.

Yemen has been riven by instability since protesters inspired by the Arab Spring forced the overthrow of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011, who is believed to have been backing the Houthis.

The country is also fighting an al-Qaeda insurgency with the help of US drones.

The US said it is continuing to work with Yemeni counterterrorism, but condemned the move by the Houthis.