Riyadh: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Sunday for the restoration to power in Yemen of Western-backed President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after Huthi militia seized power.
"The situation is very, very seriously deteriorating, with the Huthis taking power and making this government vacuum," Ban said, referring to the Shiite militia which dissolved the Sanaa government and parliament on Friday.
"There must be restoration of legitimacy of President Hadi," the UN chief told reporters after talks with King Salman in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
The Huthi militia on Friday created a "presidential council" in a move they said was designed to fill a power vacuum and would head off the threat from al Qaeda, which has a strong presence in east and south Yemen.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, led by Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, on Saturday described the Huthi action as a coup.
The militia overran Sanaa in September, then seized the presidential palace and key government buildings last month, prompting Hadi and Prime Minister Khalid Bahah to resign.
Yemen has been riven by instability since the Arab Spring-inspired uprising that forced strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power in 2012.
"I`m concerned that all these Huthis and... former president Saleh have been undermining the transition process," said Ban, who arrived in the kingdom to pay his respects after the January 23 death of Salman`s predecessor, king Abdullah.
Ban also met with other officials including Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi and GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani.
"This situation in Yemen has been the major topic which we addressed," Ban said, adding that it must be dealt with through UN Security Council and GCC initiatives.
Ban said UN envoy Jamal Benomar has been "working very hard in Yemen, facilitating a way out of the current political crisis and a return to the path of the peaceful political transition."
Security Council president Liu Jieyi has said its 15 members were ready to "take further steps" if UN-brokered negotiations to resolve Yemen`s political crisis were not resumed "immediately".
The militia chief, Abdulmalik al-Huthi, said on Saturday the establishment of the transitional bodies was "in the interest of all Yemenis without exception", including separatists in the country`s south.
The Huthis said they would set up a national council of 551 members to replace parliament in the violence-wracked nation, which is a key US ally in the fight against al Qaeda.
They also announced that Hadi`s defence minister, General Mahmud al-Subaihi, would chair a newly formed "security commission", which will include the outgoing interior minister.
The commission`s task would be to "lead the country`s affairs until the establishment of a presidential council".
But Saudi Arabia and its Gulf neighbours said the Huthi actions "totally undermine" international and regional efforts to help resolve the Yemen`s crisis.
"The Huthi coup marks a grave and unacceptable escalation", the GCC said, adding that regional security is linked to that of Yemen.