Former Yemeni president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi on Saturday fled the capital city of Sanaa after being released from house arrest, according to media reports. He was reportedly allowed to leave after the Houthis released him under international and local pressure.
An aide to the former president, speaking anonymously, said that Hadi fled to the city of Aden -- a coastal city nearly 260 miles south of Sanaa -- and had plans to leave the country to receive medical treatment, The Associated Press reported. His supporters in Aden have refused to recognize the presidential council instituted by the Houthis to replace him, Agence France-Presse reported.
Last week, the governors of Aden, Lahij, and Mahra provinces had demanded Hadi’s reinstatement, BBC reported.
Hadi and other high-ranking government officials had been under house arrest for several weeks, following a coup by the militant Houthi rebels. Hadi resigned under pressure in January, after which the Houthis instituted a presidential council to act in his stead, a move the United Nations did not recognize. It is unclear if any other former officials have left as well.
It is believed that the Houthis' decision to release Hadi was a result of pressure from the U.N., the U.S., and Russia, as well as local political groups.
The Houthis have, since taking over the government, tried to unite Yemen’s divided factions in an effort to unite Yemen’s riven political scene, which U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned is “collapsing before our eyes” in February, The Washington Times reported.
Their takeover has been denounced by rival political parties, and has inspired mass protests across the majority Sunni country. The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Sunday calling for the Houthis to restore the Sanaa government and release the president.
On Friday, the Houthis announced they had also formed a transitional council composed of historically underrepresented minorities, including women and youth groups, a move hailed by U.N. Special Advisor Jamal Benomar as a breakthrough in the ongoing negotiation process.