SANAA/ADEN: Yemen’s former president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi escaped weeks of house arrest by the Houthi militia at his official residence on Saturday and fled to his home town of Aden, sources close to him said.
He will make a speech later on Saturday on an Aden television station, the sources said.
Houthi’s official status since quitting last month in protest at the Houthis overrunning the presidential palace and his private residence remains unclear because his resignation was never formally accepted by the parliament.
The Houthis, who said they were taken unaware by his flight from the capital, have now called an urgent meeting of the cabinet in Sanaa’s presidential palace, a government official said
Hadi’s flight to Aden follows an agreement between Yemen’s rival fations on Friday, brokered by the United Nations, to set up a transitional council that keeps the parliament in place and gives a voice to some other groups.
Hadi fled his residence in disguise, Houthi politburo member Ali al-Qahoum was quoted as saying by the local news website al-Akhbar. But it added that it no longer mattered if the former president remained there or departed.
The United Nations denied reports by two senior political sources in Sanaa that it had helped Hadi travel to Aden as false.
Hadi’s Sanaa residence was looted by Houthi militiamen after he left, witnesses said, but that was denied by Qahoum. The former president arrived at his home in the Aden district of Khormaksar, sources told Reuters.
Early on Saturday, Houthi militiamen opened fire on protesters in the central city of Ibb, killing one person and wounding another, activists said.
The crowd had gathered in a square to demonstrate against the Houthis’ role in overturning the government last month.
Following the shooting, thousands more people took to the streets in protest. Witnesses said the Houthis were deploying more security forces in response.
Western countries are worried that unrest in Yemen could create opportunities for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to plot more attacks against international targets.
Late on Friday a drone destroyed a car carrying suspected members of AQAP in Shawbwa Province, a bastion of the militant group in the rugged mountains of southern Yemen, killing at least three people, residents said.
The United States has acknowledged it carries out drone strikes against militant targets in Yemen but does not comment on specific attacks. The strikes, which have sometimes killed civilians, have angered many people in the country.