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Yemen leader meets governors after fleeing capital

AFP , Sunday 22 Feb 2015
Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, President of Yemen (Photo: Reuters)
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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 the capital.

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

The militiamen, known as Huthis, have installed a "presidential" council to replace 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.

On Sunday he received the governors of various southern Yemeni provinces, 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.

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

Southern 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 the 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.

The president called Saturday for the national commission 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".

The Huthis last month seized the presidential palace and besieged Hadi's residence, prompting him to offer his resignation.

They have pushed their advance south and west into mainly Sunni areas of Yemen, where they have met with fierce resistance from tribesmen and Al-Qaeda.

The crisis has raised fears of Yemen -- a key US ally in the fight against Al-Qaeda that borders Saudi Arabia -- collapsing into a failed state.


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