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Yemen rebels vow to push on for regime change


Shia rebels vowed on Saturday to keep up their campaign for regime change in Yemen, saying that a deal struck by the parliamentary opposition that eases veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power does not go far enough.

The Huthi rebels from Yemen's Zaidi Shia minority, who have fought a bloody war with Saleh's regime in the northern mountains over the past decade, said they had formed an alliance with three small opposition parties, to work to "achieve the aims of the revolution."

The rebels' political chief, Saleh Al Habra, said that the Gulf-brokered deal, which Saleh signed in November after months of stalling, did "not answer the demands of the people."

"The aims of the revolution include the fall of the regime and creating a civil state in which all sects and groups take part, as well as changing the constitution," Habra told AFP by telephone.

He slammed the main opposition parties, which struck the deal with Saleh and now lead a caretaker government charged with preparing for early presidential elections in February.

He said that three smaller parties -- the Union of Popular Forces, Baath and Haq -- had agreed to continue the campaign for regime change, even though they have a minister each in the interim government of national accord.

Huthi supporters among the large crowds of anti-Saleh protesters who have occupied the capital's Change Square clashed last month with backers of the Islah party, Yemen's largest parliamentary opposition group.

The protesters have expressed anger at promises of immunity from prosecution extended to Saleh and his family under the Gulf deal.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay too has criticised the promised amnesties, saying on Friday that international law and UN policy were clear.

"Amnesties are not permissible if they prevent the prosecution of individuals who may be criminally responsible for international crimes including war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and gross violations of human rights," she