Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, pictured here in Sanaa on February 21, 2013, has overseen a slide into all-out conflict during his three-year rule
Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, pictured here in Sanaa on February 21, 2013, has overseen a slide into all-out conflict during his three-year rule © Mohammed Huwais - AFP/File
Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, pictured here in Sanaa on February 21, 2013, has overseen a slide into all-out conflict during his three-year rule
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AFP
Last updated: March 28, 2015

Yemen's Hadi, from apparatchik to would-be consensus figure

Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, a former Socialist apparatchik and would-be consensus figure despite a lack of political guile, has overseen a slide into all-out conflict during his three-year rule.

After falling out with Yemen's ascendant Huthi Shiites and having to flee the capital, his weakened presidency has been rescued by an 11th-hour military intervention led by mighty neighbour Saudi Arabia.

He is now in Riyadh, before heading to Egypt where he is due to take centre-stage at an Arab League summit this weekend at Sharm El-Sheikh.

Hadi, who turns 70 in May, had tendered his resignation rather than grant legitimacy to the Huthis after the presidential palace compound in Sanaa was seized and his residence attacked by the Shiite militiamen.

The resignation was retracted after he fled house arrest on February 21 and escaped to the port city of Aden in his native south Yemen.

Hadi had stepped down saying Yemen was in "total deadlock" and accepting his share of political responsibility for failing "to steer the country into calm waters".

The former career military man took office in 2012 under a UN- and Gulf-backed peace plan, in a country awash with weapons and where powerful tribes hold sway.

But unlike his predecessor, veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh who ruled over Yemen for 33 years, the stout and balding Hadi had no popular or tribal base to fall back on.

Since taking over, Hadi faced a string of challenges, including from southern secessionists and Al-Qaeda, before his showdown with the Huthis, backed by the resuscitant forces of his predecessor.

After Saleh stepped down after an almost year-long and often bloody uprising, Hadi pledged to "preserve the country's unity, independence and territorial integrity".

- From army to politics -

Instability in the strife-torn country came to a head last September when the Huthis advanced on Sanaa from their stronghold in the remote and mountainous Saada region of northern Yemen.

Hadi's lack of a strong power base of his own was exemplified by the Huthi militia's unopposed takeover of the capital and its humiliating seizure of state institutions.

Unlike Saleh, Hadi has not been able to count on strong tribal or regional connections.

While Saudi-led air strikes hammered his Huthi foes on Thursday, Hadi -- whose exact whereabouts had been unknown as Shiite militiamen closed in on his Aden refuge -- was flown to Riyadh en route to the Arab summit in Egypt expected to prop up his stuttering rule.

A major general from restive southern Yemen, Hadi had been vice president since 1994 and secretary general of the ruling General People's Congress party.

But he never played a top role in politics before taking over Saleh's powers in June 2011, when the latter was wounded in an attack on his presidential compound.

However, Hadi played a crucial role in convincing Saleh to sign the transition plan in late 2011.

Born on May 1, 1945, in Dhakin village in Abyan province, Hadi graduated from a military academy in formerly independent and Socialist-ruled South Yemen in 1964.

He also received military training in Britain and Egypt.

A unified Yemen was proclaimed on May 22, 1990, four years after Hadi had switched alliances to abandon his role as a Socialist apparatchik in the military and join the northern camp.

The southerners tried to break away in May 1994, sparking a bloody civil war during which Hadi was appointed defence minister.

He has two daughters and three sons, and has written several books, including one on the military defence of mountain areas.

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