Yemeni southern separatists hold mass protests calling for independence
Yemeni southern separatists called for demonstrations on Saturday to press for independence following a speech by Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi in which he warned against attempts to undermine the country’s unity.
Southern separatists complain of discrimination by the north and have recently pulled out of a national dialogue with the central government.
They have called for a rally on Saturday in Aden, the main southern town, to press their demands for autonomy.
South and North Yemen united in 1990.
The contentious question of separation has been a stumbling block for the national dialogue process, in which members of the Southern Movement have been demanding greater autonomy.
The dialogue is part of a transitional process stipulated by a U.N.-backed initiative, brokered by neighboring Gulf countries, which ended a year of Arab Spring-inspired protests and eased President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office in 2012, after 33 years in power.
President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi on Friday ruled out ever allowing the partition of the country.
“I will not allow anyone to haggle over the issue of the south of Yemen's unity,” Hadi said in a speech marking the 46th anniversary of the independence of South Yemen from British occupation.