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Yemen's Houthis reject new power-sharing government

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen’s Houthi movement, which seized the capital Sanaa in September, on Saturday rejected a new power-sharing government that President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi announced on Friday, thwarting his efforts to end the country’s political crisis.

Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi waits to speak during the signing of an agreement between the government and Houthi rebels, in Sanaa September 21, 2014. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

The group, which demands a bigger say for the country’s Zaydi Shi’ite Muslim sect and controls Yemen’s most powerful militia, said Hadi’s choice of cabinet ministers “dashed hopes and did not abide by what was agreed upon”.

Adding to Hadi’s troubles, his own political party the General People’s Congress ousted him as its leader on Saturday before itself rejecting his cabinet, thereby demonstrating its main loyalty to his predecessor and rival Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Hadi was forced to name a new government as part of a United Nations-brokered deal following the Houthis’ entry into Sanaa on Sept. 21 after defeating rival political factions in battle.

Both the Houthis and the GPC were angered by a United Nations Security Council decision on Friday to subject Saleh and two of the Shi’ite movement’s leaders to asset freezes and travel bans.

The U.N. sanctioned the three men for attempting to destabilize Yemen’s fragile political transition from Saleh’s 33-year rule after he was forced to step down in 2012 following mass street protests.

“Losing this position (as GPC leader) leaves Hadi without a power base outside the presidency. Previously he was speaking as both president and leader of one of the largest parties. Now he has lost this,” said Mustafa Alani, a Gulf-based security analyst.

The country’s long-running crisis worsened when the Houthis, who now call themselves Ansar Allah, seized Sanaa and expanded their control further south and west, leading to clashes with al Qaeda and allied Sunni tribes.

Underscoring Western and Gulf Arab concerns over stability in Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said on Saturday it had attempted to kill the U.S. ambassador, Matthew Tueller, planting two bombs on Thursday outside his residence.

The devices were discovered minutes before they were due to explode, AQAP said on its Twitter account. The claim could not be immediately verified.

Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Angus McDowall; Editing by Rosalind Russell