The Guardian
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Yemen crisis: Rebel actions ‘illegitimate’, says ex-president


YEMEN’S ousted President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi has accused the Houthi militia that seized power last month of staging a coup.

In his first statement since escaping house arrest in the capital Sanaa, Mr Hadi said all measures taken by the Houthis were “null and illegitimate”.

Speaking from his political stronghold in the southern city of Aden, he said he was still the president.

He called upon world powers “to reject the coup”.

He had spent weeks under house arrest in Sanaa after the Houthis forced him to resign.

His escape came a day after rival parties agreed on the formation of a governing transitional council.

Yemen has been in crisis since the takeover by the Houthis, a Shia group.

In the statement, which he signed as “president of the republic”, Mr Hadi called for a national commission to oversee the drafting of a new constitution.

He also called on military and security forces to protect the constitutional government.

UN mediator Jamal Benomar announced a preliminary accord between feuding factions earlier this week and hailed it as “an important step”.

It is not clear why Mr Hadi was allowed to leave his home on Saturday. Aides close to the former president told the Associated Press news agency that he was freed after pressure from the UN, the US, Russia and local political parties.

Mr Hadi is said to be at his home in a district of Aden.

His residence in Sanaa was looted after he left, witnesses said.

A source in the Sanaa presidential force said Houthi gunmen had been tricked into looting a vehicle carrying weapons, allowing Mr Hadi to sneak out of a back gate, the AFP news agency reports.

Mr Hadi’s supporters in Aden have so far refused to recognise what they denounce as a political coup.

Last week, the governors of the provinces of Aden, Lahij and Mahra demanded the reinstatement of Mr Hadi and reaffirmed their support for Yemen becoming a federation of six regions.

Houthi rebels seized the capital Sanaa in September, before capturing the presidential palace and placing Mr Hadi under house arrest. He then quit his presidential post, saying he could not continue under such pressure.

The Houthis dissolved parliament and installed a five-member “presidential council” on 6 February.

This sparked security concerns that saw several Arab and Western states close their embassies and remove diplomats.

Since overrunning Sanaa, the Houthis have expanded their control to coastal areas and regions south of the capital.

Their takeover was denounced as a coup by rival political factions and prompted mass protests, mainly from the country’s Sunni majority.

The Houthis have also faced fierce resistance from Sunni tribes and al-Qaeda militants.

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