Yemen's parliament approves new government amid months of fighting

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SANAA, Yemen — Yemen's parliament on Thursday approved a new government with a comfortable majority following months of violence and political wrangling.

The 301-seat chamber's vote came two days after loyalists of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh derailed a vote of confidence on the government during a raucous session.

The legislature did not release a tally, but more than 200 lawmakers were present and the vote, by show of hands, suggested a large majority approved the 36-member government led by Khaled Bahah.

Parliament's approval of the new government should help ease tensions, but it's unlikely to resolve the power struggle between President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who seized control of the capital Sanaa in September and are allied with Saleh loyalists.

The Houthis had pressed Hadi to form a new government that would give them more say in the country's political affairs. Widely thought to be aided by Iran, the Houthis have become the nation's main power brokers since they overran the capital.

The Houthis surrounded the Defense Ministry and packed nearby streets on Tuesday, preventing the minister from reaching his office. A day earlier, the minister had evicted the rebels from around the ministry for preventing his chief of staff from entering.

Wrangling over the makeup of the new government, as well as the Houthis' military expansion around the capital and in other strategic provinces, has driven Yemen deeper into turmoil.

Saleh and his loyalists, who form the majority in parliament, have called on the government to explicitly denounce U.N. sanctions against the former leader and two top Houthi leaders. Bahah's government has vowed to respect the sanctions.

Last month, the U.N. Security Council approved an asset freeze and a global travel ban on Saleh, the rebel group's military commander Abd al-Khaliq al-Houthi, and the Houthis' second-in-command, Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim.

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