Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who quit last month as Yemen’s president following pressure from Shia Houthi rebels, has managed to slip house arrest and reportedly fled to the city of Aden.
Hadi left his home in the capital Sanaa, which was under siege from Shia Houthi rebels who forced him to resign. The house was reportedly ransacked, Al Jazeera correspondents reported.
Talks between the country’s warring factions were immediately suspended after Hadi escaped house arrest, sources told Al Jazeera.
Al Jazeera’s Hashem Ahelberra, who has covered Yemen extensively, said the port city of Aden is Hadi’s stronghold with “thousands of supporters” loyal to him.
“He was taken in a convoy to Aden. He is now in Aden … This is going to be a major setback for the Houthis who, for some reason, wanted him confined for a longer period in his house,” said our correspondent.
“In Aden he is definitely going to be greeted as a hero. Aden is his power base and, as a Sunni, he will have massive support.”
Our correspondent said that given Hadi’s health problems, he may announce he has quit and leave the country to seek medical treatment in neighouring Saudi Arabia or the US.
He may also be persuaded by secessionists and powerful tribesmen in Aden, who see him as a legitimate leader, to demand to be reinstated, our correspondent added.
The news came as Houthi fighters opened fire on protesters in the central Yemeni city of Ibb on Saturday, killing one person and wounding another, activists said.
The crowd had gathered in a square after a new power-sharing deal was reached on Friday to demonstrate against the Houthis’ role in overturning HAdi’s 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.
Yemen’s feuding political parties agreed on Friday to create a transitional council to help govern the country and allow a government to continue operating with input from rival factions after the effective Houthi takeover.
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 armed group in the rugged mountains of southern Yemen, killing at least three people, residents said.
The US has acknowledged it carries out drone strikes against fighters’ targets in Yemen but does not comment on specific attacks. The strikes, which have sometimes killed civilians, have angered many people in the country.
Hadi was seen as a supporter of the use of drone strikes against AQAP.
The car was travelling in the Wadi al-Houta district of Shabwa, the residents said. They saw flames surging out of the vehicle and heard several small explosions coming from it after it was struck. Al Jazeera