President Hadi meets UN representatives in south Yemen

President Hadi meets UN representatives in south Yemen
With the Houthis controlling much of the north, Yemen's president, Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, met with a UN envoy in the southern city of Aden.
3 min read
27 February, 2015
President Hadi enjoys popular support in his southern base [Anadolu]

Yemen's President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi met the UN envoy in Aden on Thursday, as the southern city increasingly became the country's de facto political and diplomatic capital instead of militia-held Sanaa.

Saudi Arabia also announced its envoy was resuming his duties in Aden, after several Arab and Western nations closed their embassies in Sanaa this month over security fears.

Presidential escape

Hadi held his first face-to-face talks with UN envoy Jamal Benomar in Aden after fleeing on Saturday to the city in Yemen's formerly independent south, an AFP correspondent said.

Hadi has called for the government to rally in Aden, after he escaped house arrest under the Houthis who have seized control of Sanaa.

Benomar told reporters after the talks that he hoped Hadi's "resumption of duties would help to pull Yemen out of its crisis".

He said the two had discussed the "abnormal situation in Yemen and peaceful ways to end it" and that he was looking into options for a "safe place" to resume political talks.

Abdulmalik al-Houthi, leader of the militia, accused Hadi of "destabilising the country, feeding conflict and worsening the crisis".

Speaking on television, he said the only solution to the country's political impasse was the "constitutional declaration" made by the militia when it took power on 6 February.

The envoy landed a day after a high-profile delegation visited Aden to reiterate support from Arab Gulf monarchies for Hadi.

Benomar has been shuttling between Yemeni parties to secure an end to the country's political deadlock.

The UN diplomat also held talks on Thursday with representatives of political factions from the Southern Movement, which is calling for the secession of the regions of the formerly independent south.

Shifting sands  

Hadi has been seeking to restore his authority from Aden, and earlier this week received representatives of Yemen's main seven political parties.

     Powerful tribes in Marib have urged Hadi to declare Aden the temporary capital.

Also backed by the United Nations and Western allies as Yemen's legitimate ruler, Hadi has retracted a resignation he offered last month and resumed his duties.

He has said he hopes to make Aden secure for the return of foreign diplomatic missions, after many countries including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates shuttered their embassies.

In a first step, the Saudi embassy to Yemen said in a statement Thursday that its ambassador, Mohammed Saeed al-Jaber, had resumed his duties from the kingdom's consulate in Aden.

"The centre of political and diplomatic gravity has shifted to Aden after Hadi went there and following the popular support he received in southern and central provinces," Yemeni political analyst Thabit Hussein said. 

"Aden now has a special importance due to the political and security situation in Sanaa."

Southern base

The Houthis, who have long clashed with central authorities, descended from their power base in northern Yemen to seize Sanaa in September.

After their attempts to expand into southern and central Yemen were checked by fierce resistance from al-Qaeda and from Sunni tribesmen, the militia moved to take power this month in what Yemen's Gulf neighbours branded a coup.

The country's continued security problems were highlighted this week when a 30-year-old French woman, Isabelle Prime, and her as-yet-unidentified Yemeni interpreter, were kidnapped on the streets of Sanaa by masked gunmen.

Prime's father, Jean-Noel, on Thursday urged her kidnappers "to show their humanity" and set her free.