SANAA : Tens of thousands of Shia rebel activists demonstrated in the Yemeni capital Monday heeding a call by their leader to press their campaign to oust the government in defiance of the UN. The show of strength by the Zaidi Shia rebels caused traffic jams on several major roads in Sanaa, an AFP correspondent reported. In a speech late on Sunday, rebel leader Abdulmalik al-Huthi called on supporters who have been manning armed protest camps in the capital for the past week to continue their campaign to topple the national unity government, from which the rebels are excluded.

Huthi slammed a demand by the UN Security Council on Friday for the camps to be dismantled and for the rebels to pull back fro m areas they have occupied in recent months.

He accused the council, which threatened sanctions against groups blocking the political transition in impoverished Yemen, of “supporting corruption and backing policies that lead to further poverty.”

The rebels have been campaigning since early August for the national unity government to be replaced and for unpopular austerity policies it has adopted, including a sharp rise in fuel prices, to be reversed.