National dialogue sessions canceled Wednesday in Yemen, sit-in held in Sanaa
Yemen's national dialogue session scheduled for Wednesday was canceled after delegates from both the north and south protested the direction of talks, according to AFP sources.
A group of delegates from Zaidi Ansarullah and the Southern Movement held a sit-in at the hall in Sanaa where the session was scheduled to take place, forcing the dialogue organizers to postpone the meeting until Thursday.
The two groups boycotted sessions earlier in the week during the session where Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi announced that the dialogue was close to completion, with a "united and federal Yemen" days away. In a joint statement, Zaidi Ansarullah and the Southern Movement announced that their boycott was in response to the "lack of consensus on the northern and southern questions." According to the boycotters, "traditional forces" have been in charge of debating and deciding on the "most important national issues."
The Southern Movement has been a major reason for the delay in the national dialogue talks launched in March to draft a new government structure, including a constitution and February elections. The group has largely been demanding secession and restoration of borders that were in place for the 1990 union of North and South Yemen. Separatist groups are planning to stage a protest in the former South Yemen capital of Aden Saturday in support of secession. According to Hadi, the secession of the south "would prove a catastrophe that future generations will never forgive us for."
Zaidi Shias have also had tense relations with Yemen authorities, particularly as a result of a 2004 rebellion that killed thousands until a ceasefire was declared in 2010.
"It is injustice that has united us [Zaidi Ansarullah and the Southern Movement]," said Mohammed Ali Ahmed, an affiliate of a Southern Movement faction group.