Yemen's Hadi: President who failed to bring stability

Yemen President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi at the presidential palace in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2013. Mr Hadi, 69, whose palace compound was seized and residence attacked by Huthi Shi'ite militiamen on Tuesday, has ruled over Yemen for three turbulent year
Yemen President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi at the presidential palace in Sanaa, Yemen, in 2013. Mr Hadi, 69, whose palace compound was seized and residence attacked by Huthi Shi'ite militiamen on Tuesday, has ruled over Yemen for three turbulent years. His fate amid Tuesday's attack was not immediately known. -- PHOTO: EPA

SANAA (AFP) - President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, 69, whose palace compound was seized and residence attacked by Huthi Shi'ite militiamen on Tuesday, has ruled over Yemen for three turbulent years.

Mr Hadi, who took office in 2012 under a UN- and Gulf-backed peace plan, is a career soldier with no popular or tribal base but who emerged as a consensus figure.

The Huthis seized the palace in Sanaa and attacked his separate residence in what a minister said was a bid to overthrow the President and his US-backed government.

The fate of Mr Hadi, who was reportedly at his residence when it came under fire, was not immediately known but his authority had already been undermined by the Huthis' unopposed takeover of Sanaa in September and Yemen's chronic instability.

Since their advance from their power base north of Sanaa, the Huthis have pressed on into areas south of Sanaa, where they have met deadly resistance from Al-Qaeda loyalists.

Mr Hadi's government has been a key ally of the United States, allowing Washington to carry out repeated drone attacks on Al-Qaeda militants in its territory.

Taking over from veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down after an almost year-long and often bloody uprising, Mr Hadi pledged to "preserve the country's unity, independence and territorial integrity".

A major-general from restive southern Yemen, Mr 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 Mr Saleh's powers in June 2011 when the latter was wounded in an attack on his presidential compound.

Mr Hadi also was a crucial player in convincing Saleh to sign the UN-backed transition plan in late 2011.

Born on May 1, 1945, Mr Hadi graduated from a military academy in formerly independent South Yemen and also received military training in Britain and Egypt.

A unified Yemen was proclaimed on May 22, 1990, four years after Mr Hadi had joined 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.