SANAA, Yemen — The U.N. envoy to Yemen on Wednesday expressed "disappointment" over the refusal by the country's Shiite rebels to withdraw their fighters from state institutions and release the prime minister from house arrest.
The conditions were stipulated in a Security Council resolution seeking to help resolve the crisis roiling Yemen amid the power grab by rebel Houthis.
The U.N. envoy, Jamal Benomar, warned during a visit to the southern port city of Aden that no single party "will be able to impose" control over all of Yemen.
Benomar has been negotiating with rival Yemeni factions to get them to relocate negotiations aimed at reaching a political resolution to outside of the capital, Sanaa, which was overrun by the Houthis last September.
"The United Nations supports dialogue which doesn't give legitimacy to those who are resorting to violence," Benomar said.
He spoke shortly after meeting with embattled Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled from the Houthis' house arrest and is establishing his base in Aden.
Hadi has also called for relocating embassies from Sanaa to Aden, and on Tuesday, he proposed that negotiations take place in Riyadh, the capital of predominantly Sunni Saudi Arabia — a proposal likeley to be rejected by Houthis.
After closing their embassies in the capital, western and Arab Gulf countries sent their diplomats to Aden to meet with Hadi in a show of support. The closure raised Houthis' fears of international isolation, especially as it came hand-in-hand with the Security Council extending sanctions imposed on two of Houthi leaders and their key backer, ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
On Wednesday, the Houthis opened up all roads leading to the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, removing barricades, cement blocks and security vehicles they had placed around the compound.
In January, the Houthis, who fought their way last year from their northern heartland to Sanaa, declared they have taken over the country and disbanded the parliament.
Thousands of anti-Houthis demonstrators rallied Wednesday in Sanaa but were quickly dispersed by the rebels, who arrested 20 protesters, residents said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear for their own safety.