MS Risk Blog

Yemen’s Hadi emerges, resumes presidency

Posted on in Yemen title_rule

24 February– On Saturday, Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi has escaped his house arrest in Houthi controlled Sanaa and has arrived in Aden, where he retracted his resignation and announced he would resume his governmental responsibilities. He called all measures taken by the Houthis “null and illegitimate.”

Last month, Houthis attacked the presidential palace and ministerial Cabinet, forcing both the president and prime minister to resign. Houthi militants then besieged Hadi’s residence in Sanaa and put him under house arrest. The president sent an official letter withdrawing his resignation to parliament, but the group had never formally met to accept his resignation. Hours after Hadi fled Sanaa on Saturday, Houthi officials tried to force parliamentarians to meet immediately to accept his resignation, but their efforts failed. Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, now head of the General People’s Congress party which holds a majority of seats in parliament, said it will not push for a parliament vote to accept the resignation of Hadi.

The Houthis’ takeover of Sanaa stunned governments of Western nations, which pulled out diplomatic staff this month. Since January, the Houthis have failed to form a government or reach a deal with other political factions for the formation of a presidential council. The rebels are investigating Hadi’s escape and have arrested dozens of their own security personnel who were responsible for watching him. Sources close to Hadi say that the Houthis have also arrested two people connected to the president: his media secretary, Yahya Al Arassi, and his private physician.

In the letter sent to parliament this week, President Hadi has urged lawmakers to work with him to “salvage the salvageable and to normalise the security and economic situation in all provinces”. He has called on all government ministers to come to Aden to reconvene. Prior to 1990, Aden was the capital of the formerly independent south Yemen. Hadi’s Prime Minister, Khalid Bahah, tendered his resignation at the same time as Hadi, and remains under house arrest along with other ministers and officials in Sanaa.

A day after Hadi’s emergence, hundreds of thousands of supporters filled the streets of seven Yemeni provinces. Protesters called for Hadi to stand against the Houthi coup. In Sanaa the largest demonstrations occurred as protestors urging Hadi to end militant occupation of the capital.

In Taiz, tens of thousands took to the streets to show support for the president, carrying placards which read: “Out to militant rule, return of government institutions.”

There already had been resistance to the Houthis’ attempted takeover of national government institutions from different groups in Yemen, particularly in the South, where there’s a long-running secessionist movement.

Yemen is also home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which exerts influence over many rural areas across the country. AQAP is also opposed to the Houthis, and last year vowed to attack Houthi loyalists throughout the nation. The US has been conducting regular drone strikes in AQAP controlled territories, under an agreement with President Hadi. The strikes have continued during his absence but it is uncertain how the tumultuous political landscape could impact the fight against the terrorist group.

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