Tens of thousands of people have held a huge anti-government rally in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, in response to a call by senior Houthi leader, Abdul Malik al-Houthi.
The protesters gathered in Change Square on Monday before parading in the center of the capital, where supporters of the Houthis had converged.
The protesters chanted slogans against the government and protested against a gasoline tax increase which was brought in at the end of July.
In a Sunday speech, the Houthi leader called on his followers to march on Sana’a and demand “the fall of the government, which has failed.”
He gave the Yemeni government a deadline of Friday to meet the grievances of the protesters and warned that otherwise additional forms of “legitimate action” would be taken.
In the coming days, “we will erect tents, carry out sit-ins and organize marches” in the capital, the Houthi leader said, adding, “We won’t stand with folded arms in the face of crime.”
The government increased the price of petrol from 2,500 Yemeni riyals to 4,000 riyals per 20 liters.
More than 50 percent of around 25 million population of the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country live below the poverty line, according to official figures.
Over the recent months, Yemen has been experiencing a severe energy crisis including frequent power cuts and fuel shortages.
Yemen’s Houthi movement draws its name from the tribe of its founding leader, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi. The Shia fighters blame the government for the political, economic, and religious marginalization of the country’s Shia community and violating their civil rights.
The Houthi movement played a key role in the popular revolution that forced former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down in February 2012.