UN envoy to Yemen meets deposed president Hadi in Aden

Published February 27th, 2015 - 11:43 GMT

Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Thursday met the UN envoy in Aden, as political confrontations continued in the country.

Saudi Arabia also announced its envoy was resuming his duties in Aden, after several Arab and Western nations closed their embassies in Sanaa this month over security fears.

Hadi held his first face-to-face talks with UN envoy Jamal Benomar in Aden after fleeing on Saturday to the city in Yemen's formerly independent south.

Hadi, who won a 2012 one-candidate election, has called for the government to rally in Aden, after he escaped house arrest under Houthi militants, who have seized control of Sanaa.

Benomar told reporters after the talks that he hoped Hadi's "resumption of duties would help to pull Yemen out of its crisis."

He said the two had discussed the "abnormal situation in Yemen and peaceful ways to end it" and that he was looking into options for a "safe place" to resume political talks.

Abdulmalik al-Houthi, leader of the militia, accused Hadi of "destabilizing the country, feeding conflict and worsening the crisis."

Speaking on television, he said the only solution to the country's political impasse was the "constitutional declaration" made by the militia when it took power and dissolved parliament on February 6.

The envoy landed a day after a high-profile delegation visited Aden to reiterate support from Gulf oil-rich monarchies for Hadi.

Benomar has been shuttling between Yemeni parties to secure an end to the country's political deadlock.

The UN diplomat also held talks on Thursday with representatives of political factions from the Southern Movement, which is calling for the secession of the regions of the formerly independent south.

Western-backed Hadi has been seeking to restore his authority from Aden, and earlier this week received representatives of Yemen's main seven political parties.

Also backed by the United Nations as Yemen's legitimate ruler, Hadi has retracted a resignation he offered last month and resumed his duties.

He has said he hopes to make Aden secure for the return of foreign diplomatic missions, after many countries including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates shuttered their embassies.

In a first step, on Thursday, the Saudi embassy to Yemen said in a statement that its ambassador, Mohammed Saeed al-Jaber, had resumed his duties from the kingdom's consulate in Aden.

Powerful tribes in the oil-rich province of Marib, east of Sanaa, have urged Hadi to declare Aden, which was the capital of South Yemen, the temporary capital of Yemen.

The Houthis, who have long clashed with central authorities, descended from their power base in northern Yemen to seize Sanaa in September.

After their attempts to expand into southern and central Yemen were checked by fierce resistance from al-Qaeda and from tribesmen, the militia moved to take power this month in what Yemen's Gulf neighbors branded a coup.

The country's continued security problems were highlighted this week when a French woman — 30-year-old Isabelle Prime — and her Yemeni interpreter Sherine Makkaoui were kidnapped on the streets of Sanaa by unidentified gunmen.

Prime's father Jean-Noel on Thursday urged her kidnappers "to show their humanity" and set her free.

Yemen has fallen into turmoil since a 2012 uprising forced out autocratic president Ali Abdullah 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 al-Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (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.

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