Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has resigned, according to a Yemen government spokesman in Washington, throwing the country deeper into chaos days after Houthi rebels battled their way into his presidential palace.
Spokesman Mohammed Albasha announced the embattled president was stepping down via social media on Thursday.
Hadi submitted his resignation to parliament after being pressured to make further concessions to the rebels, saying he had reached a “deadlock” in talks with the militant group who rule the capital and had confined him to his home.
Yemen's Cabinet had submitted its resignation earlier Thursday.
Citing a Facebook post by Prime Minister Khaled Bahah, Reuters quoted the political chief as saying the government didn't want to be "dragged into an unconstructive political maze that is not based on law or order."
The move comes amid a political tug-of-war between the president and the Houthi Shi'ite militia that has gripped the country since Monday.
His resignation raised fears the Arab world's poorest country could again split apart.
Speaking from Sanaa on Thursday, U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar said the political crisis would only be resolved if the rival groups honor earlier agreements that call for power-sharing and an end to violence.
"I want to assert again that the crisis can't be resolved but by way of what you agreed upon through the outcomes of the NDC and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement," he said. "I call you all to have wisdom and national spirit, give priority to the national interest of Yemen and use dialogue and political action to resolve any of political disagreement, away from violence, extortion and procrastination."
The news was met with a muted response from U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Psaki said the United States supports a "peaceful transition" in Yemen, but demurred on details of what that transition would be.
"We're not going to jump to conclusions about what it means until we have a confirmation and we have time to assess - working with the Yemenis, discussing internally what it means.
"We're continuing to encourage and support a peaceful transition. And obviously, we're not in a position -- and I don't think any of you are either -- to assess what that means at this point in time," she said.
Psaki added that there has been no change in the security posture for the U.S. diplomatic mission in Yemen.
Yemen's parliament rejected Hadi's resignation, Al Arabiya Television reported. Yemeni law says the parliament speaker -- Yahia al-Rai, a close ally of ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh -- would become the interim head of state.
Parliament is to meet Friday or Saturday to decide whether to accept or reject Hadi's resignation.
Hadi's government has been a key ally of the United States, allowing Washington to carry out repeated drone attacks on Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula militants in its territory.
Abu al-Malek Yousef al-Fishi, a senior official of Yemen's Houthi movement, said on Thursday he welcomed Hadi's resignation, according to his account on Twitter.
“The resignation of [Hadi] is a glad tiding for all Yemenis,” Fishi said in a message posted on the social media site.
The resignations came less than 24 hours after Hadi signaled he would accede to demands by the powerful Houthi movement for a bigger stake in constitutional and political arrangements.
The Houthi rebels welcomed the proposed concessions by the government on power-sharing, but their gunmen still held positions outside the residence of Hadi, who remains a virtual prisoner there, Reuters reported earlier Thursday.
Hadi issued a statement Wednesday pledging to scrap a proposed constitutional change that Houthis opposed, and saying that Houthis and members of the southern separatist Hirak movement have a right to be appointed in all state institutions.
His support of a more inclusive Yemen followed three days of violence in Sana'a that drew international concern.
Clashes on Thursday
Elsewhere, clashes erupted in Marib province in central Yemen Thursday.
Two tribesmen were killed while trying to push back Shi'ite Houthi rebels who were allegedly trying to take an army base in oil-rich Marib, a tribal source told reporters.
Marib, which is home to a significant portion of Yemen's oil fields and where more than half the country's electricity is produced, has been a flashpoint in recent months as the Houthis have been expanding their influence across the country.
The rebels' rise to influence has caused chaos in Yemen and resulted in a shift in its complex web of tribal, religious and regional allegiances. In addition, the Houthis are players in a regional struggle between neighboring Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran.
Houthi rebels seized de facto control of the capital in September, moving beyond their traditional rebellion in the north.
Yemen also has a powerful movement in the south demanding autonomy or a return to the full independence the region enjoyed prior to 1990, which is unlikely to accept rule by the Houthis.
Some material for this report came from Reuters, AFP and AP.