JEDDAH/DUBAI: Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Saturday urged Iran-backed Houthi militias to “stop giving our nation to our enemies.”
“Isn’t it time to stop your crimes? Look around at the destruction you have caused,” Hadi said at the first meeting of the country’s Parliament since the Houthi coup in 2014.
The session took place in Seiyun in the eastern province of Hadhramaut, attended by 141 members, as well as international envoys and security personnel.
Sultan Al-Burkani, head of the General People’s Congress party, was elected speaker.
"The Houthis have made the capital a place of chaos", Al-Burkani said and asked officials to return to the temporary capital of Aden to fulfil their duties.
In his address, Hadi said that four months had passed since the Stockholm agreement and there had been no further progress.
"This meeting is convened during an extremely important and historic moment where we have to choose either peace or war," Hadi said.
"The Yemenis have recovered today, one of the most important institutions of their state, after a long journey of struggle, and they are in a station on the road to restoring their legitimate rights and the return of their stolen institutions," he said.
The president said that Houthi crimes must be exposed, adding that they do not understand peace.
He also called on government officials to resume their official duties.
"War is not just military, every governmental official who does not perform his job is betraying his nation. We have to perform our duty of protecting our country," he told the session.
"All the parliamentarians who did not attend this meeting should join with their colleagues in this institution to defend their homeland," he said.
Support for legitimate government
Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami, president of the Arab Parliament, who was also at the session, congratulated Hadi on holding a parliament session and called on the international community to condemn Houthi violations.
"The Yemeni crisis has always been at the heart of our agenda," Al-Salami said.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber said that Saturday’s parliamentary session emphasises the determination of Yemen’s people to reclaim the state and end the “Houthi project.”
Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed arrived in Hadhramaut on Friday, with several ministers and officials to attend the meeting, Yemeni state agency SABA reported.
The prime minister is expected to set the public budget for 2019 during the meeting and prepare for further legal and constitutional procedures.
After the Houthi coup in 2015, the Yemeni president ordered the relocation of the parliament to Aden, the temporary capital.
Since the Houthis took hold of Sanaa, the militia captured around 100 lawmakers and threatened them into attending meetings, according to Arab daily, Asharq Al-Awsat.
The 301-member assembly was elected to a six-year term in 2009. It is split between Houthi supporters, government supporters and independents.
Yemen’s government has been based in the southern city of Aden since 2015, but Hadi and other top officials live in Saudi Arabia.
Local authorities in Aden, who are allied with the United Arab Emirates, refused to allow parliament to convene there.
World community needs to act
Hadi called on the international community to stop procrastinating and pressure the Houthi militia to implement the agreements signed with it.
"You are concerned with pressure to stop the war waged by the Houthi militias against the people of Yemen," he said.
Last December in Stockholm, Sweden, the two sides agreed on a cease-fire and troop withdrawal in Hodeidah port, an exchange of prisoners, and the reopening of humanitarian corridors to help millions of starving Yemenis, with international monitors to oversee events.
The pact is intended to clear the way for wider political negotiations, with a transitional government supported by both sides, to end the war.
The Saudi-led coalition has accused the Iran-aligned Houthis of breaching the agreement. The Houthis want more guarantees from the United Nations that the other side will not exploit their withdrawal.
The cease-fire in Hodeidah has largely held despite an increase in violence in other parts of the country not subject to the agreement.
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s civil war in 2015 to restore Hadi’s government.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have been killed and an economic collapse has left about 16 million facing severe hunger.