Yemen leader meets governors after fleeing capital

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi led a meeting of governors in the southern city of Aden on Sunday as he resumed some of his duties after escaping house arrest in Sanaa.

AFP| Last Updated: Feb 23, 2015, 00:59 AM IST

Aden: Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi led a meeting of governors in the southern city of Aden on Sunday as he resumed some of his duties after escaping house arrest in Sanaa.

The Western-backed leader fled to Aden yesterday after sneaking out of his residence in the capital, where he was being held by a Shiite militia group that has seized control of the city.

The militiamen, known as Huthis, have installed a "presidential" council aimed at replacing Hadi, who after his escape declared all their measures "null and illegitimate".

Hadi tendered his resignation last month under pressure from the Huthis but it was never approved by parliament.

He received the governors of various southern Yemeni provinces today, Aden governor Abdulaziz bin Habtoor said.

"The president will keep up his political efforts to lead from Aden," bin Habtoor told reporters after the meeting, which was also attended by army and security chiefs.

"His priority is to normalise the security situation in Aden in order to receive foreign delegates who have requested appointments to meet him," he said.

As the meeting began, sources close to Hadi said that one of his relatives, Nasser Ahmed Mansour Hadi, was abducted by Huthi militiamen yesterday as he tried to leave Sanaa to join his uncle.

The nephew, who was seized in the Yaslih region of southern Sanaa, was a member of Hadi's cabinet, the sources said today.

Aden is jointly controlled by troops loyal to Hadi and an allied local militia known as the Popular Committees.

South Yemen is friendly territory for Hadi, himself a southerner, and local leaders have refused to recognise the authority of the council formed by the Huthis.

An aide to Hadi said the president used today's meeting to call for restarting a political transition process that stalled after the Huthis overran Sanaa in September.

"He underlined the need to implement the recommendations of the national dialogue" which include turning the republic into a federation of six regions, the aide said.

The Huthis, who hail from the northern Saada province where they fought the central government for a decade, have rejected the proposed division of regions in the federation plan.

Hadi called for the national commission yesterday overseeing the drafting of a new constitution to again convene, saying it should meet in Aden or Taez province until Sanaa "returns as a safe capital for all Yemenis".

By escaping house arrest, "Hadi has regained the political initiative and stripped the Huthis of legitimacy," said analyst Fahd Sultan of the Yemeni Political Reform organisation.