1 of 3
Hani Mohammed, Associated Press
Students protest against the Shiite insurgency during a rally at the University of Sanaa, Yemen, Wednesday. Dec. 17, 2014. Yemen's powerful Shiite rebels shut down a strategic Red Sea port on Wednesday, and stormed the offices of the country's main state newspaper, officials said.

SANAA, Yemen — Yemen's parliament on Thursday approved a new government despite months of violence and political wrangling that has shaken the country.

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

Houthis' power grab was met with a wave of suicide bombings and deadly attacks, mainly by Sunni rivals from al-Qaida and allied tribes.

A strong explosion rocked a Houthi site in the port city of Hodeida on Thursday but there was no immediate report on casualties.

Also, al-Qaida's Yemeni branch claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings that targeted a Houthi leader south of Sanaa on Tuesday — a day that left 26 people dead, including 16 school girls whose school bus was struck in one explosion. Later, al-Qaida denied targeting the school bus and accused the Houthis of firing rocket propelled grenades that hit it.

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 Shiite rebels have become the nation's main power brokers since they overran Sanaa.

The 301-seat legislature did not release a tally on Thursday's vote, but more than 200 lawmakers attended the session and voted by a show of hands. A strong majority approved the 36-member government, led by Khaled Bahah.

Wrangling over the makeup of the new government, as well as the Houthis' military expansion around Sanaa 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 president and two top Houthi leaders. Bahah's government has vowed to respect the sanctions.

Last month, the U.N. Security Council imposed 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.