The Houthi movement now in de facto control of the country on Monday ended an almost two-month house arrest it had imposed on senior government officials, including Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and Foreign Minister Abdullah Al-Saidi.
Hadi’s announcement effectively rejects Bahah’s earlier decision to resign his post in protest over the Houthi coup in February. The president himself escaped house arrest in Sana’a in February, fleeing to Aden where he is setting up a rival political power base.
President Hadi on Monday held consultative talks with ten out of the 36 members comprising Bahah’s cabinet, including FM Saidi and Defense Minister Gen. Mahmoud Al-Subaihi, who on March 8 also fled a Houthi-imposed house arrest in Sana’a.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, a source close to Hadi said the meeting did not cover political issues, focusing instead on the situation in Sana’a.
During the meeting, Hadi praised the released ministers’ perseverance despite the challenges they had faced. He also invited them to assume their portfolios from Aden.
The ten ministers declared their support for Hadi as the legitimate president of Yemen, the source maintained.
Bahah’s short-lived cabinet of November 2014–January 2015 was formed under the UN-sponsored Peace and Partnership Agreement that required the Houthis to withdraw their militias from Sana’a in exchange for wider representation in Hadi’s central government.
But the Shi’ite group reneged on the agreement by stepping up interference in government affairs and tightening restrictions on Hadi and his cabinet members as well as continuing to spread throughout the country.
On January 22, Hadi resigned from his post as president under pressure from the Houthis who had stormed his residence days earlier.
Then in a controversial step aimed at sealing their control over the country, the Houthis issued a “constitutional declaration” in early February that dissolved parliament, formed an interim committee to run the affairs of the country, and assigned all security affairs to their own Revolutionary Committee .
According to the source, Hadi’s Aden-based administration is discussing preparations for reconciliation talks to be held in Riyadh under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Hadi has tasked his former office director Ahmed Bin Mubarak, who is now in Saudi Arabia, to follow up on preparations for the talks that are set to start at the end of March, according to the source.
Hamdan Al-Rahbi also contributed reporting.