Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi militia have announced that President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is a fugitive from justice as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states welcomed his return to the Yemeni presidency.
Hadi escaped from house arrest in Sana’a on Saturday to retract his resignation as president and resume his position as the legitimate head of the Yemeni state.
The Shi’ite Houthi militia had earlier carried out a coup in the Arabian Peninsula state, taking control of executive and legislative authority in the country following the announcement of a controversial “Constitutional Declaration”.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) moved to immediately recognize Hadi as the legitimate president of Yemen, calling on the UN to take measures against the Houthis who remain in control of the capital Sana’a.
“GCC countries call upon all Yemenis and political and social groups in the country to rally behind President Hadi and support him to carry out his constitutional duties to save Yemen from the present dangerous situation,” GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani said in a statement late Monday.
“The UN Security Council should consider the measures taken by the Houthis as null and void as they have no legitimacy,” Zayani added.
However the Yemeni Houthis have denounced Hadi’s escape and refused to acknowledge the retraction of his resignation as president.
Yemen’s state news agency SABA, which has been taken over by the Houthis, on Tuesday quoted the Houthis’ Revolutionary Committee as saying that they are monitoring Hadi’s “suspicious activities.”
“Hadi’s reckless and erratic actions harmed the Yemeni people, its security, stability, economy and life,” SABA quoted the Houthi Revolutionary Committee—which has taken over as Yemen’s de facto parliament—as saying.
Sources close to Hadi had earlier informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the president was taking steps to form a new interim government to run the country’s affairs from the southern port city of Aden.
Hadi resigned last month after armed members of the Shi’ite Houthi movement surrounded his residence in the capital and placed him under effective house arrest. But he was able to leave the compound on Saturday and headed to Aden—though reports have conflicted regarding how he left, with some contending he was freed by the Houthis, while others say he was rescued by Yemeni Special Forces or escaped in disguise.
The UN denied any role in Hadi’s release on Saturday in response to a Reuters report claiming that the international body had facilitated the Yemeni president’s escape. UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar said: “The UN confirms it has no relations to President Hadi’s departure.”
Political sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Hadi was meeting with representatives of seven Yemeni political parties in Hadhramaut province to discuss what happens next. The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, refused to divulge which political parties Hadi was meeting with.
However MP Abdulaziz Jabari of the liberal Justice and Construction Party confirmed that a “delegation” of Yemeni political representatives were meeting with Hadi, including representatives of his own party.
Jabari told Asharq Al-Awsat: “This delegation will carry out consultations with Hadi regarding the current situation in the country and how to overcome the crisis. We will listen to his point of view and discuss all issues, including the issue of continuing the national dialogue [with the Houthis].”
“We want to see the return of the Yemeni state and for all state apparatus to return back to normal in the capital Sana’a,” he added.
Additional reporting by Fahd Al-Zayabi from Riyadh.