Yemen's Ousted President Tells Houthis to Exit Sanaa

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A protester holds up a poster of Yemen's former president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, during an anti-Houthi demonstration in Sanaa February 21. The poster reads: "Freedom for the legitimate president!" Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's ousted president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi called on the Houthi militia that overran Sanaa in September to quit the city, in a statement read by al-Jazeera news channel, his first since escaping house arrest and fleeing to Aden on Saturday.

His statement was delivered under the title of president, implying Hadi has rescinded the resignation he made to parliament last month after the Houthis stormed his private residence, and which was never formally accepted by parliament.

He said he was committed to a 2012 transition plan, which aimed at moving to democracy after ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh quit following street protests. And he described the Houthis' seizure of Sanaa as tantamount to a coup.

He called on the Houthis to release senior officials of his government from house arrest and sought a new meeting of the country's "national dialogue," also part of the political transition designed to bring together political, regional, religious and tribal factions to craft a new constitution.

He said the meeting could be in either Aden or Taiz, cities not under the militia's control.

Hadi had proposed a draft constitution last month based on that process but the Houthis rejected it.