Yemen's president urges talks with pro-independence leaders
Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has called on the leaders of secessionist movements in the south to join a national dialogue on the country’s political future.
In a Thursday speech marking the 24th anniversary of the formerly independent South’s union with the North, the Yemeni leader said “the door is still open” for the southern leaders to join the national talks and they could still remain on the country’s political stage.
Separatist activists in southern Yemen boycotted the national dialogue that concluded in February with a plan to divide the Arab country into six federal regions, four of them in the north and the other two in the south.
Politicians in southern Yemen are strongly opposed to the plan, arguing that it would give more power to the proposed four northern regions than the two southern ones.
“We call on those who did not participate in the national dialogue to join the comprehensive national process that excludes no one. The door is still open,” the Yemeni president stated.
Hadi’s comments came a day after thousands of people took to the streets in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden, calling for the independence of the southern parts of the country.
The idea of creating a federal system has been a part of Yemen’s political transition, as the country is still reeling from the popular uprising that forced longtime dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office in February 2012.
Yemen’s southern residents complain that they have been economically and politically marginalized by the central government in Sana’a.