Friday, Dec 30, 2011
Sana’a The secessionist movement in Yemen’s south stepped up protests and called on its supporters to burn their election cards to raise the pitch for an independent southern state.
Thousands of protesters marched though Yemen’s southern cities of Aden, Dhale, Radfan, Hawta, Ateg and Mukalla hoisting the flag of the former communist state chanting slogans against the government in Sana’a and urging people in the south to boycott the presidential election scheduled for next year.
“We have called all of the people in the south to burn their election cards to express our rejection of the election. We have a special ceremony tonight for this purpose,” an activist taking part in the protests told Gulf News.
Since it took shape in 2007, the Southern Movement has been calling for the disengagement of the former southern state that united with the North in 1990. Dozens of people have been killed when the government tried to crush protests.
Clashes with Al Qaida
Elsewhere in the south of the country, two soldiers were killed and seven injured in the last couple of days in fierce clashes with Al Qaida militants in the restive district of Zinjibar in Abyan province, a local source told Gulf News. Three militants were also killed in the clashes.
The self-styled Proponent of Sharia, an offshoot of Al Qaida, has seized control of large swathes of the province of Abyan and a city in the neighbouring Shabwa province since May.
Meanwhile, protests against outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh escalated yesterday in the streets of Sana’a and Taez.
In Sana’a, a huge number of protesters marched demanding that Saleh and his aides be tried for ordering the killing of protesters.
Meanwhile, workers across Yemen continued strikes yesterday to demand the dismissal of long-serving officials loyal to Saleh.
Eyewitnesses in Sana’a said dozens of policemen arranged a sit-in demanding the removal of general Mohammad Abdullah Al Qowsi, accusing him of withholding their wages.
The unity government urged the civil servants to call of strikes against their managers and be patient and give it time to put in place its programme, promising to look into their demands, Saba news agency reported.