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Yemen leader-in-exile Hadi returns for meeting of divided parliament

Updated April 14, 2019

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Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. — Reuters/File
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. — Reuters/File

ADEN: Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who lives in Saudi Arabia while rival Houthi forces control the capital Sanaa, made a rare visit to his country on Saturday for a meeting of the divided parliament in a loyalist southern province.

In Sanaa, however, the Houthis have started to organise elections to fill 24 vacant seats in the same parliament, state news agency SABA said.

Both sides are under pressure from international players to implement a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire deal agreed last year in Sweden and to prepare for a wider political dialogue that would end the four-year-old war. Lawmakers from both sides would ultimately meet to agree on a political framework.

Hadi’s Riyadh-backed government, which is still recognised internationally, has been based in the southern port city of Aden since 2015 and Hadi has not set foot there since a visit last August. Hadi-aligned parliamentarians gathered in Sayun, Hadramout province on Saturday elected Sultan al-Burkani of the General People’s Congress (GPC) of late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh as their new speaker.

The Saudi-led military coalition fighting the Houthis in the devastating war has been trying to recruit GPC members and fighters since Saleh was killed in December 2017 after switching sides away from the Houthis.

“This extraordinary session is held in a historic moment as we stand in a crossroad between choices of war and peace,” Hadi told the 145 parliamentarins meeting in Sayun.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2019