Thousands of Yemenis gathered in the city of Mukalla Sunday demanding statehood for the formerly independent southern Yemen on the twentieth anniversary of the country's civil war, according to Agence France Presse.
The hardline Southern Movement, who has spearheaded such protests in the past, has heightened its calls for independence in recent months, particularly after Sana'a released a plan to carve Yemen into a six-unit federation. Under the plan, the southern region would be divided into two regions, one where Mukalla is based and the other in the former southern capital of Aden (where another pro-independence rally commenced Sunday).
The south was formerly independent from 1967 until 1990 following British colonial rule, but then entered a union with the north in 1990. Four years later, civil war erupted in the area, leading to northern occupation of the south.
"This rally is a message addressed to the world saying that the south [remains] under occupation," said activist Basser Bakazkuz.
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