Houthi gunmen replace guards outside Yemen president's home

Houthi gunmen replace guards outside Yemen president's home
A military armoured personnel carrier belonging to Houthi fighters travel on a street leading to the Presidential Palace during clashes in Sanaa January 19, 2015.

SANAA - Armed fighters from Yemen's powerful Houthi movement stood guard on Wednesday outside the private residence of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, whose home is normally protected by presidential security officers, witnesses said.

Sentry posts were empty and there was no sign of the presidential guard at the compound, scene of clashes between Houthis and guards on Tuesday, the witnesses said.

The Houthi fighters were accompanied by an armoured vehicle.

Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi politburo, told Reuters: "President Hadi is still in his home.

There is no problem, he can leave."

Houthi fighters battled guards at the Hadi's home and entered his palace on Tuesday, raising the stakes in a drive for more political power that has enfeebled state authority and thrown the Arab state deeper into turmoil.

In a televised speech hours after his fighters' display of force on Tuesday, Houthi leader Abdel-Malek al-Houthi warned Hadi that he had to implement a power-sharing deal struck when his men seized the capital in September.

Hadi, an ally of the West and staunch supporter of US drone attacks on al Qaeda fighters in Yemen, has been also increasingly at odds with Houthi over a draft constitution intended to help end decades of conflict and underdevelopment.

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