Middle East

Yemen separatist leader pledges loyalty to Hadi after routing his forces

The leader of southern secessionists in Aden has pledged allegiance to Abd Rabbuh Hadi, after separatists routed the Yemeni president's forces in three days of fighting and besieged his government inside the city's presidential palace.

Aidaroos al-Zubaidi, the leader of the Southern Transitional Council, told France 24 Arabic TV that he remained loyal to Hadi and had no plans to quit the battle against their common enemy, the Houthis.

We ask the Arab coalition to take control and assume its duty to this people and these bad conditions

– Aidaroos al-Zubaidi, separatist leader

"We've asked the president… to fire the government and appoint a caretaker government in its place," Zubaidi said on Tuesday evening.

"We ask the Arab coalition to take control and assume its duty to this people and these bad conditions."

Fighting subsided on Wednesday and fighters for the council, the UAE-armed "Security Belt" militia, handed two military bases back to the Fourth Brigade of the presidential guard, a day after overrunning them.

The detente followed mediation by a Saudi-led military coalition, which is trying to halt the worst infighting yet among its allies in a wider war against the Houthi movement that controls northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa.

The separatists aim to restore the independent state of South Yemen, which was united with northern Yemen in 1990.

Zubaidi created the Southern Transitional Council last year after Hadi sacked him as governor of Aden province.

The separatists have fought alongside Hadi loyalists, but rose up this week after Hadi refused to sack his prime minister, Ahmed Obaid Bin Daghar.

"Government institutions were handed back and the (southern) militias withdrew," a government source told the Reuters news agency.

Residents reported that banks and businesses reopened on Wednesday as traffic resumed on the streets after many people spent days indoors fleeing from combat which killed at least 20 fighters.

However, Security Belt checkpoints remained in the city.

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