Riyadh and Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Yemen’s newly released Prime Minister Khaled Bahah may resume his duties soon if efforts to persuade him to retract his resignation succeed, a Yemeni presidential aide said.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, presidential adviser Mohammed Marem said President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi wants PM Bahah to withdraw his resignation ahead of the reconciliation talks in Riyadh, which are expected to start later this month.
Bahah took the decision to resign along with his cabinet on January 22 after the powerful Houthi movement laid siege to the prime minister’s residence and the presidential palace in Sana’a.
The prime minister and most of the members of his government were placed under house arrest for almost two months before they were released by their Shi’ite captors on Monday.
President Hadi does not recognize Bahah’s resignation as legitimate, the official said, as the decision was made under pressure from the Houthi rebels.
Hadi himself was placed under house arrest by the Houthis before he fled to Aden on February 21.
The 50-year-old prime minister has left Sana’a for Hadhramaut where he is staying with his family, the official said, while all of the other released ministers have also left the capital.
The release of Bahah’s cabinet was meant to ease UN-sponsored talks between Yemen’s political factions that stalled after the Houthi movement refused to respond to demands to withdraw its militias from Sana’a or soften its position.
After setting up his rival government in Aden, Hadi called on Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s wealthy neighbor, to host reconciliation talks with the Houthis in Riyadh under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Saudi Arabia has invited all of Yemen’s political factions, including the Houthis, to the talks providing they recognize Hadi as the legitimate president of Yemen.
In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, a source from the southern Hadhramaut governorate said the head of the Al-Hirak Movement, a southern secessionist group, Hassan Baoum is in Dubai to take part in talks with other exiled southern leaders to discuss participation in the Riyadh talks, among other issues.
The talks hosted by the Emirati government will be attended by former South Yemeni presidents Ali Nasir Muhammad and Ali Salim Al-Beidh as well as former prime minister Hayder Abu Bakr Al-Attas.
The talks will focus on political developments in the southern port city of Aden where President Hadi has taken refuge from the Houthis, according to the source.
Hadi’s escape to Aden and his subsequent efforts to establish a government there have stoked fears that the south will turn into a conflict zone between the embattled president and the Houthis.
Meanwhile, a Houthi-led military delegation headed to Tehran on Tuesday to discuss boosting military cooperation, a Sana’a source told Asharq Al-Awsat.
The delegation included military figures from southern Yemen, the source maintained, “in a bid to step up the psychological war against the south and President Hadi.”
Arafat Madabish contributed reporting.