Yemen’s parliament convened on Saturday for the first time since a civil war began almost two years ago, in a move that bolsters the dominant Houthi movement and challenges the Saudi-backed exiled government.
The armed Houthis and their allies in the General People’s Congress (GPC) party headed by powerful ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh control the capital Sanaa and have withstood thousands of air strikes by a Saudi-led coalition.
President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his internationally recognised government view them as putschists after they took the capital by force in September 2014 and have warned them against seeking to legitimise their rule through parliament.
In a statement carried on the state news agency Saba, Hadi called the parliament session illegal and warned that MPs attending it could be prosecuted as criminals.
After UN-backed peace talks to end the war collapsed last week, the Houthis and the GPC set up a governing council to rule the country despite UN and government opposition.
The assembly convened within earshot of bombings by Saudi-led warplanes on military bases several miles away.