SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Two Yemeni government ministers announced their resignations on Wednesday in a gesture of protest, claiming that Saudi Arabia has for months now prevented Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi from returning home.
The kingdom, which backs Hadi’s internationally recognized government, has been waging war against Yemen’s Shiite rebels known as Houthis since March 2015.
Hadi fled Yemen amid the Houthi advances and has been in self-imposed exile in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, along with most members of his government, though some government officials are based in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden — far from the capital, Sanaa, and the northern regions controlled by the rebels.
Minister of State Salah el-Sayadi announced his resignation in a statement Wednesday, a day after Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Civil Service and Insurance Abdulaziz el-Jabari said in televised comments that he was stepping down.
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El-Jabari said he handed in his resignation on Monday to Hadi in Riyadh and though he said Hadi is not held in Saudi Arabia, the president cannot return home to Aden.
El-Sayadi is in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, Yemeni government officials said. He was forced to leave Aden by pro-United Arab Emirates’ forces after he allegedly called on residents earlier this month to stage protest so that Hadi would return to the country.
The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia, from Hadi or other government officials.
In November, Yemeni officials told The Associated Press that Saudi Arabia had been barring Hadi, along with his sons, ministers and military officials, from returning home.
At the time, the officials said the ban was prompted by the bitter enmity between Hadi and the UAE, which has come to dominate Aden and parts of southern Yemen that are not under rebel control.
The Gulf nation has trained, financed and armed militias in Yemen that answer to the UAE forces, creating a parallel security establishment. An AP investigation last summer documented 18 secret prisons run by the UAE or its allies, where former prisoners said torture was widespread. The UAE denied the allegations and says all security forces are under Hadi’s authority.