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BBC
01/22/2015

The crisis in Yemen deepened on Thursday as officials reported that both the president and his government had resigned.

It comes amid an ongoing stand-off with Shia Houthi rebels.

Houthi gunmen have a tight grip on the capital, Sanaa, and still hold a presidential aide abducted last week.

They had previously committed to withdrawing from key positions around the presidential palace and the home of President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi.

But despite winning concessions under a peace deal agreed on Wednesday, the rebels - who overran Sanaa in September - have not pulled back.

In a letter offering the government's resignation, Yemeni Prime Minister Khaled Baha said ministers did not want to be dragged into "an unconstructive political maze".

There has been a week of violence in Sanaa with Houthi rebels involved in deadly exchanges with government forces.

On Monday, Houthi militiamen opened fire on Mr Baha's convoy and then later laid siege to the presidential palace, where he was staying.

Then on Wednesday the home of President Hadi was shelled, shattering the ceasefire that had been agreed only hours earlier.

The ceasefire deal had met a series of rebel demands including the expansion of Houthi representation in parliament and state institutions, according to the official Saba news agency.

In return, the rebels said they would pull back and free the president's chief of staff, held since Saturday.

The Houthis, who follow a branch of Shia Islam known as Zaidism, have staged periodic uprisings since 2004 in an effort to win greater autonomy for their northern heartland of Saada province.

Since July the rebels have inflicted defeats on tribal and militia groups backed by the leading Sunni Islamist party, Islah, and battled AQAP as they have pushed into central and western provinces.



 


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