Five members of Yemen's main opposition party, the Yemen Socialist Party (YSP), have been arrested in the southern port city of Aden, a party official said Sunday.
"The police arrested five party leaders in Aden, including a member of the central committee, Yassin Ahmed Saleh, and the secretary-general of the Aden office, Ali Monassar," the official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.
He said they had just attended a preparatory meeting for the YSP's national convention which is due to meet in Sanaa on Wednesday to elect a new leadership.
"The justification given by police for arresting the leaders was that they took part in an unauthorized meeting," he said.
"The explanation is astonishing since the party is allowed to carry out its activities and one such activity is to hold meetings," he said.
A police official implicitly rejected the party's account, but did not give any other reason for the arrests.
"How can anyone claim that the five people were arrested because of a meeting, when the authorities are backing the preparations for the convention which is to be attended by thousands of party members?" he asked.
The YSP was the party which ruled South Yemen before the two Yemens united in 1990. After unity its leaders joined the government, but disagreements with President Ali Abdullah Saleh degenerated into a civil war in 1994.
The YSP was defeated and its leaders fled into exile, and have been sentenced to death in absentia.
The YSP boycotted the 1997 elections, and therefore has no seats in parliament -- SANAA (AFP)
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