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Is Yemen's south the last refuge for defeated president? Open in fullscreen

Faris al-Jalal

Is Yemen's south the last refuge for defeated president?

Houthi gunmen have effectively ended Hadi's power in Sanaa [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 22 January, 2015

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Members of southern separatist movement say Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi should support their cause as Houthis tighten their grip on power in Sanna.

The south of Yemen appears to many southerners to be President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi's last refuge after Houthis took over the the presidential palace in Sanaa and attacked the homes of many of his loyalists.

His guards, including Saleh al-Jamalani, the general in charge of the presidential protection unit, arrived in Aden in south Yemen on Wednesday, according to information obtained by al-Araby al-Jadeed. A number of senior officials have also left the Sanaa for southern cities, including Abyan, Lahij, Shabwah, al-Dalea and Hadhramaut.

Hadi's fate is an important topic in the south, which has been weakened politically after it enjoyed a period of increased influence under Hadi, a southerner who became president in February 2012.

Hadi is popular in Aden, Shabwa and his hometown of Abyan, but less so in other areas.

     Hadi's popularity in the south has increased since the coup.

Many of those in high positions in the Yemeni government, civilian and military, also come from Abyan. Most rulers of the southern governorates are Hadi loyalists.

Hadi's brother, Nasir Mansour Hadi, is a general in charge of political security in Aden, Abyan and Lahij. Hadi's brother controls many southern political figures and former ministers, as well as leading figures in the Southern Movement.

Some of Hadi's loyalists have shown support for the Southern Movement.

A leading source in the movement told al-Araby: "If Hadi supports the demands of our movement, he could be the main political actor in the south."

Many believe Mohammad Ali Ahmed, a leading figure in the movement, is a strong ally of Hadi.

Hadi's popularity was evident when his supporters in the south, in charge of the four governorates of Aden, Abyan, Lahij and al-Dalea closed all sea, land and air routes into the south after the coup last week.

The southern governorates of Hadhramaut and Shabwah also stopped the production and export of oil, in solidarity with Hadi and his office manager Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, who was seized in the latest action by Houthi rebels in Sanaa.

"Hadi's presence in Sanaa is no longer in his interest, nor does it serve the north after Houthis took power. He belongs in Aden," Southern Movement journalist Majid al-Shuaibi said.

Hadi's return to the south depends on his ability to leave Sanaa and make deals allowing him to return to Aden.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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