Yemen's Hadi out of Sanaa after Weeks under House Arrest

Yemen's Western-backed president, who resigned last month under pressure from Shiite militia, was out of the capital Saturday after weeks under house arrest, prompting his supporters to question U.N. proposals to fill the power vacuum.

President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi arrived in the main southern city of Aden, where his supporters have refused to recognize the authority of the presidential council installed by the Huthi militia to replace him, an aide told AFP.

It was not immediately clear whether the Huthis had allowed him to leave Sanaa in the face of demands by the U.N. Security Council for an immediate end to his house arrest.

Hadi plans to address the nation within 48 hours using the Aden transmitters of state television which are under his supporters' control, the aide said.

He would not be drawn on whether Hadi intended to withdraw his resignation, which did not receive the parliamentary approval required by the constitution before the Huthis unilaterally dissolved all government institutions on February 6.

Hadi travelled overland in a convoy of dozens of vehicles, a top security official in Aden said. He passed through third city Taiz, which like Aden is outside Huthi control.

"He managed to leave his house this morning and his way is being secured to reach Aden," the aide said earlier.

The security official in Aden told AFP that Hadi was staying in a presidential residence in the Khormaksar diplomatic district of the southern port city.

The aide insisted that Hadi left "without an arrangement or even informing any of the political parties."

The Huthi militiamen, whose power base is in Yemen's mainly Shiite northern highlands, overran the capital unopposed in September.

Last month, they seized the presidential palace and laid siege to Hadi's residence, prompting him to tender his resignation.

The Huthis have pushed their advance into mainly Sunni areas south and west of Sanaa, where they have met with fierce resistance from armed tribesmen and Al-Qaida militants.

But Taiz and some other parts of the north, as well as the whole of the south, remain beyond the militia's control.

Hadi is originally from the south, although he spent nearly three decades in the north, serving as defence minister and vice president before becoming president in 2012, when veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced from power by a bloody year-long uprising.

Hadi has always defended the 1990 union of the north with the formerly independent south where secessionist sentiment has grown sharply in recent years.

But most troops and militia in the region have pledged allegiance to Hadi and his supporters hailed his arrival in the former southern capital as a game-changer.

Nadia Sakkaf, who served as information minister in the government that resigned with Hadi last month, called for the revision of U.N. proposals for a political settlement in Yemen, which special envoy Jamal Benomar hailed just Thursday as a "breakthrough."

"The political situation and the balance of power has changed after the arrival of Hadi in Aden," she wrote on her Twitter account.

She said that southern militiamen of the Popular Committees, were ensuring Hadi's safety.

The militiamen have taken control of most police stations and checkpoints in Aden and have clashed with members of the special police they accuse of cooperating with the Huthis.

The U.N. envoy had been shuttling between the Huthis and their opponents for weeks trying to forge a settlement.

On Thursday, Benomar said the parties had agreed on a new legislative authority to engage the Huthis and southern separatists in an "important step towards achieving a comprehensive political agreement that would end the current crisis".

Last weekend, the U.N. Security Council urged the Huthis, to "immediately and unconditionally" engage in "good faith" in U.N.-brokered negotiations, withdraw their forces from government institutions and relinquish power.

It also demanded that the militia release Hadi, Prime Minister Khalid Bahah and other officials and activists under de facto house arrest or in detention.

Source: Agence France Presse

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