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PRESIDENT OR FUGITIVE? HOUTHIS REJECT HADI’S LETTER TO PARLIAMENT
Published on 25 February 2015 in News
Ali Ibrahim Al-Moshki (author)
Ali Ibrahim Al-Moshki

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Opinion remains divided as to whether Hadi is the legitimate president of Yemen. The Houthi Revolutionary Committee called him a fugitive and illegitimate, but many politicians and lawyers argue otherwise.
SANA’A, Feb. 24—The Houthis have rejected the retraction of Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi’s resignation as president and promised reprisals, while members of Parliament remain divided over its legality.

The Houthis have said Hadi’s claim to the presidency is illegitimate and have promised a “harsh” response following his escape from house arrest on Saturday.

Muhammad Al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi Political Office in Sana’a, said on Tuesday that the group will respond with “strong measures in the coming few days,” although he would not elaborate due to the “sensitivity of the current situation.”

The Houthi Supreme Revolutionary Committee, the group’s 15-member governing body, issued a statement via the state-run Saba News Agency on Tuesday morning, declaring Hadi a fugitive “who lost any legitimacy as president after his reckless actions undermined the security, stability and economy of the country.”

The group added that anyone dealing with Hadi as head of state and responding to his orders would be legally accountable, and asked foreign governments “to respect the choice of Yemen’s people and not to deal with Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi as president.”

Legal authorities disagree with the official position taken by Houthi authorities, however.

Mohammad Al-Sharjabi, a GPC member working in the legal authority of the Houthi Revolutionary Committee, said if a month passes without a parliamentary vote “it is expected that the president will resume his duties as head of state.”

Abdulrahman Barman, a lawyer with the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms (HOOD) based in Sana’a, believes so long as Parliament has not convened to decide on the matter, Hadi has the right to withdraw his resignation at any time.

Speaking with the Yemen Times, he said the law stipulates that a resignation must be accepted or rejected with a parliamentary vote before it can be validated, and that the time elapsed since the resignation was tendered is irrelevant.

Barman said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative transferred parliamentary jurisdiction to the president, and that under the ongoing political crisis Hadi was using the power granted to him to make decisions normally within Parliament’s remit or requiring its sanction. Hence, he said, most decisions taken since 2011 were executive orders taken by Hadi alone.

“Legally speaking, the resignation does not exist and therefore the Parliament does not need to hold a session to decide on the matter,” he said. “The president has the right to withdraw his resignation [without consultation], and the timeframe normally granted for Parliament to accept or dismiss it has already passed.”

Sultan Al-Autwani, a Nasserist member of Parliament and advisor to the president, agrees with Barman’s interpretation. “Hadi’s letter retracting his resignation was valid as soon as it reached Parliament, there is no reason for Parliament to hold a session to discuss it,” he said. “Parliament has no say in accepting or rejecting the resignation because we never met to discuss it.”

He added that Hadi was not even obliged to contact members of Parliament regarding the matter and had only done so “out of respect” for the government. His resignation “was invalidated the moment he [escaped house arrest and] left Sana’a on Saturday,” he said.

However, Abdu Al-Janadi, a spokesperson for the General People’s Congress (GPC), said his party does not accept Hadi’s return to the presidency and argues any decision must come from Parliament.

With 220 of 301 seats, he pointed out that the GPC holds a majority in Parliament and “so it is up to the us, the GPC, whether to accept or withdraw Hadi's resignation.”

Hadi addressed a letter to members of Parliament retracting his resignation on Monday evening. He was withdrawing his resignation, he wrote, due to “the conspiracy against national unity, security and sovereignty… and a disregard for the political process.”

The Houthis, he added, “hampered the political process on Sept. 21 of 2014 when they took Sana’a at gunpoint, while the government was being peaceful and did not resort to aggression, which it remains committed to today.”

Hadi resigned as president on Jan. 21, three days after his residence and the Presidential Palace were attacked by Houthis. After a month under house arrest, he escaped to Aden on the morning of Feb. 21.

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