Saudi ambassador to Yemen relocates to de facto capital Aden

#InsideYemen

UN envoy to Yemen visits president in south, says Hadi's 'resumption of duties would help to pull Yemen out of its crisis'

A general view shows the exterior of the Saudi Arabian embassy complex in Sanaa after it closed following security concerns on 14 February, 2015 (AFP)
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Thursday 26 February 2015 21:21 UTC
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Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Saeed al-Jaber has returned to Yemen, where he has resumed his diplomatic responsibilities from the southern city of Aden, a diplomatic source said Thursday.

Several countries had closed their embassies in Sanaa this month over security fears following the takeover of the capital by Shiite militants.

"Al-Jaber arrived in Aden today [Thursday] and resumed his duties," from the kingdom's consulate in the southern city, the source, requesting anonymity, told the Anadolu Agency.

Saudi Arabia unofficially evacuated most if its diplomatic staff from Yemeni capital Sanaa last September after Shiite Houthi militants seized control of the city.

In February, the embassy suspended operations and evacuated the remaining staff.

Al-Jaber's return to crisis-hit Yemen came less than one week after embattled Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi fled the capital – where he had been placed under house arrest by the Houthi militia – to the southern city of Aden.

Upon his arrival in the southern city, Hadi declared himself Yemen's "legitimate" leader, going on to assert that all Houthi decrees issued since last September were "null" and "illegitimate."

The Houthi group, for its part, has vowed to prosecute government officials loyal to Hadi, who the Shiite group considers "illegitimate."

On 6 February, the Houthis issued a "constitutional declaration" dissolving parliament and establishing a 551-member transitional council.

The declaration, however, was rejected by most of Yemen's political forces – along with some neighbouring Gulf countries – which described it as a "coup against constitutional legitimacy."

Separatists reject transfer of capital to Aden

Meanwhile, separatist leaders in southern Yemen on Thursday rejected the proposed relocation of the nation's capital to the southern city of Aden.

The separatists voiced their rejection of the proposal at a Thursday meeting in Aden between separatist groups and UN Envoy Jamal Benomar, according to a separatist leader who attended the gathering.

"The south shouldn't be dragged into Yemen's power struggle," the source, speaking anonymously, told AA.

"Benomar expressed an understanding of the [separatist] delegation's grievances," he said.

Hadi had also met on Thursday with the UN envoy in Aden, as the southern city increasingly became the country's de facto political and diplomatic capital instead of militia-held Sanaa.

Hadi held his first face-to-face talks with Benomar after fleeing on Saturday from Houthi house arrest in Sanaa, an AFP correspondent said.

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.

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

Pro-Hadi rally in Dhamar

Meanwhile, numerous people took part in a Thursday demonstration in Yemen's southwestern Dhamar province in a show of support for Hadi.

Demonstrators set out from the northern entrance of Dhamar, the provincial capital, before moving through the streets of the city, Mohamed al-Washie, a demonstrator, told AA.

Protesters, he added, had chanted slogans in support of Hadi and against recent attempts by the Shiite Houthi group to consolidate its grip on state institutions.

Al-Washie noted that protesters had also called for the departure of Houthi militants from the Dhamar province and from all of the country's state institutions.