The Houthi Group, Ansar Allah, has started measures to hold parliamentary elections for vacant seats in the House of Representatives of Yemen.
Pro-Houthi Saba news agency said the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum on Thursday decided to instruct its offices and secretariat general to take necessary measures to hold these elections in accordance with the law.
The commission discussed in an extraordinary meeting chaired by Judge Mohammed Abdullah Al-Salimi, chairperson of the commission, the letter 8 sent by the House on January 29th which called for elections for vacant seats, the agency reported.
There were no details whether the elections will be held for seats of the absent MPs or just the seats of the MPs who stopped attending sessions of the House.
Most members of the House have been refusing to attend sessions either because of Houthi practices. Some have fled the capital Sanaa and joined the government of internationally recognised president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Hadi's government has been fighting the Houthis, who control the capital and most densely populated cities in the north, with support from a Saudi-led coalition for four years.
The House has been divided since the conflict began.
The majority of its members including the speaker live in Houthi-run regions. They have been holding semi-regular sessions. But their number has decreased since former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by the Houthis at his residence on 4th December 2017. Saleh's party, the General People's Congress, had the majority of seats in the House. Saleh allied with the Houthis in September 2014 and ousted the UN-backed government of Hadi. Their alliance ended after Saleh started to reject Houthi practices including besieging his residence.
The announcement to hold the elections coincided with moves by the internationally recognised government to convene the House in the southern city of Aden, the temporary capital. But the government is facing huge challenges to achieve that including opposition from the UAE-backed southern transitional council. This council is running most of the southern regions which were retaken from the Houthis in mid-2015.
In the meantime, the House can't convene in Sanaa because of the lack of quorum after many MPs have escaped due to Houthi practices. And this has helped the government and the Saudi-led coalition to attract a large numbers of those MPs who can constitute the quorum to convene the House outside of Houthi-run regions.
In the House, the quorum is 135 members, more than half of all the members.
On 3rd January, Debriefer published a report quoting reliable sources as saying that the Houthi Group was exercising pressure on the speaker of the House Yahya Al-Ra'e to force him to leave the country in order to pull the rug out from under the feet of President Hadi who is seeking to control the House.
The sources said the speaker, who lives in Sanaa, refused to leave. It seems the Houthi tactic has now changed as they are seeking to hold elections for vacant seats.
The government of Hadi has not commented on the move, as observers ruled out the possibility of holding the elections because of the ongoing conflict.