Yemen's Hadi Withdraws Resignation as Houthis Say He Lost Legitimacy

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Yemeni protesters shout slogans as they take part in a demonstration on February 23, 2015, in Sanaa against the Shiite Houthi movement. Anadolu/Mohammed Hamoud.

Published Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has retracted his resignation after escaping house arrest in the Houthi militia-controlled capital, an aide said on Tuesday, while the Houthis said Hadi has lost his legitimacy in the country.

The embattled president had tendered his resignation last month after the Houthis seized the presidential palace and besieged his residence in Sanaa.

On Saturday he made a surprise escape and resurfaced in Aden, the capital of the formerly independent south Yemen, where he called all measures taken by the Houthis "null and illegitimate."

An aide to Hadi said he had sent a letter withdrawing the resignation to Yemen's parliament, which had never met to formally accept it.

"I have withdrawn my resignation which I tendered to your esteemed parliament," Hadi wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

In the letter, Hadi urged lawmakers to cooperate with him to "salvage the salvageable and to normalize the security and economic situation in all provinces."

Hadi also called on government ministers to "head immediately to Aden to convene," the presidential aide said.

Meanwhile,the Houthis said on Tuesday Hadi has lost his legitimacy as head of state and warned anyone against dealing with him, saying he was being sought as a fugitive of justice.

"The higher revolutionary committee is following the suspicious moves by ... Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who had lost his legitimacy to act as president of the Republic of Yemen, and whose reckless acts had harmed the Yemeni people," the group said in a statement in its first official reaction since Hadi’s escape.

Hadi is a southerner who spent nearly three decades in the north, serving as defense minister and vice president during strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh’s time in power. Hadi became president in a 2012 one-candidate election organized by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

French woman kidnapped in Sanaa

Meanwhile, a French woman working for an international organization in Sanaa was kidnapped on Tuesday morning, the French foreign ministry said.

"We unfortunately confirm the kidnapping this morning in Sanaa of a French citizen," read a statement from the ministry urging "all our compatriots to leave the country as fast as possible."

Since the Houthis overran Yemen’s capital and expanded their military presence in central and southern provinces, the country's security condition has declined.

The Houthis seized Sanaa in September before tightening their grip and prompting Western-backed Hadi and his Prime Minister Khaled Bahah to tender their resignations.

The Houthis dissolved parliament and installed a "presidential council" to run Yemen on February 6, sparking security concerns that saw several Arab and Western countries close their embassies and evacuate diplomats.

Among the countries that have closed their embassies and pulled out their staff are Britain, France, Germany, Spain and the United States. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey have taken similar action.

Yemen has fallen into turmoil since a 2012 uprising forced out autocratic president Saleh, who had been in power for 33 years, after a year of unrest. Following Saleh’s overthrow, the Houthis, al-Qaeda, separatists from the former independent South Yemen, and tribesmen have been fighting each other to gain power and territory in the fragile state.

The latest crisis in the Arab world's poorest country threatens to allow AQAP to expand across the peninsula.The turmoil has also cast doubt over the future of a key partnership for Washington in the fight against AQAP.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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