Yemen’s Defense Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi, who was under house arrest in the capital Sana’a, has escaped to the southern port city of Aden, reports say.
Turkey's Anadolu Agency on Sunday quoted tribal sources close to Subaihi as saying that he had arrived in Aden in the early hours of Sunday after fleeing the capital to join fugitive President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
Houthi fighters reportedly went to Subaihi’s house and started looking for him in the streets of Sana’a upon realizing that he had disappeared.
In a similar move, Hadi also fled Sana’a on February 21 after weeks under effective house arrest and went to Aden, where he highlighted his determination to resume duties.
In January, the Yemeni president and the cabinet of Prime Minister Khaled Bahah stepped down and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by the Ansarullah movement, but the parliament rejected the resignation that he later withdrew after leaving Sana’a.
However, the Houthi movement said Hadi had lost his legitimacy after escaping the capital and was being sought as fugitive.
The developments came after Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who took control of the capital last September, dissolved the Yemeni parliament and announced a constitutional declaration on the Transitional National Council in February.
The constitutional declaration said that the council will be set up to elect the presidential council in a bid to end the country’s persisting political deadlock.
Hadi’s ‘new capital’
The reports of Subaihi’s escape came a day after an aide to Hadi quoted him as saying that the fugitive leader considers Aden to be Yemen’s capital.
Some Persian Gulf Arab states have already relocated their embassies from Sana’a to Aden.
The commander of special forces in Aden, Abdel Hafez al-Saqqaf, meanwhile, has dismissed a decree by Hadi firing him, saying he would only follow orders from the presidential council in Sana’a.
The port city of Aden, Yemen’s second largest city, used to be capital of a once independent south Yemen before unification in 1990.
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