The defence minister is joining ‘Hadi’s camp’ in Aden, currently considered the country’s de facto capital.
Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has told President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has fled from capital Sanaa to southern city of Aden, to leave the country and go into exile.
Saleh on Tuesday accused his successor of destroying the country, as Hadi re-established his presidency in the southern city after fleeing from a house arrest by Houthi rebels believed to be backed by Iran.
“The people can not afford to eat or drink, you have gobbled up their dues, suspended their salaries, brought their livelihoods to a standstill, investment to a halt and tourism too,” Saleh said at a news conference in the capital, Sanaa.
Shia Houthis, now the country’s de facto rulers, took control of the Yemeni government last month in a coup and announced their own administration.
Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, reporting from Aden, said Hadi faced a tough uphill battle to convince Yemenis that he is still in charge.
“Saleh is very clearly aiming for a strong comeback to the political scene. Probably he doesn’t want to be president again but he has his son,” Vall said.
“We have seen thousands today inside Sanaa asking his son Ahmed Abdullah Saleh to run for president in the next elections in Yemen,” our correspondent added.
Hadi was elected president of Yemen in 2012 following a popular uprising that forced Saleh to step down. Prior to his election, Hadi had served under Saleh as his vice president for more than 16 years.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia agreed to host talks in Riyadh between the different factions to solve the crisis that has thrown the country into turmoil.
The announcement by the Saudi king’s office came following a request from Hadi, but it was not clear who would take part in the talks.
“The security of Yemen is part and parcel of the security of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries,” the statement said.
“The GCC countries have expressed their agreement to the request of Yemen’s president to hold a conference under the umbrella of the GCC in Riyadh.”
The Saudi talks proposal comes weeks after the UN announced it would mediate in a dialogue between the two sides, warning that Yemen was sliding towards civil war.
But Hadi has refused to talk with the Houthis unless they vacate Sanaa and has asked to move the talks to a neutral area.