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Yemen’s main port closed as rebels guard presidential residence

Yemen’s main port closed as rebels guard presidential residence

Yvonne Williams

Houthi Politburo member Mahmoud al-Junaidi, said the officials supporting Yemeni President Abd-Rabu Hadi on Wednesday closed the country’s main port in the southern city of Aden.

The official noted that the Houthi rebels stood guard outside Hadi’s Sana’a residence, after seizing the presidential palace.

He said the President was inside his residence and had met his advisors, who include Houthi representatives.

al-Junaidi said the airport in Aden – Yemen’s second city and the capital of the formerly independent south, from which Hadi hails was also closed.

Paramilitary fighters from other southern provinces were reported to be heading to the city to close road crossings between the south and the rest of the country.

A security official in Aden said the closures were a “response to the coup against the legitimacy of President Hadi” and would continue “until matters are resolved in Sana’a.”

The developments came after two days of clashes in the capital that saw Houthi fighters overwhelm presidential guards and take effective control of the presidential palace as well as the area around Hadi’s residence.

Witnesses said on condition of anonymity that only Houthi fighters were to be seen around the house in the south of the capital, with no sign of the presidential guard.

The Shiite movement’s leader, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, on Tuesday warned Hadi to cancel a planned division of the country into six federal regions, a move which would split up northern areas where the rebels are most influential.

Al-Houthi also demanded “immediate intervention” in the oil-rich eastern province of Mareb, one of the few areas outside the south where local tribes have prevented the entry of his forces.

The Houthis, who seek to revive the Zaydi Shiite traditions of Yemen’s northern highlands, have expanded across much of the country over the past year, and took effective control of Sana’a in September. (dpa/NAN)