Thursday, February 9, 2012

Two Separatists Killed in Anti-election Protest in Southern Yemen

February 9, 2012

At least two protesters were killed Thursday in Yemen's southern province of al-Dhalee in clashes between security forces and hundreds of separatists who called for boycotting the upcoming presidential elections, a Yemeni security official and witnesses said.

The clashes broke out when the demonstration of the separatist Southern Movement turned into riot as dozens of protesters surrounded the provincial office of the election committee and attempted to break into it, a security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Witnesses said security forces opened fire to foil the attack on the election committee's office and its employees, killing two protesters identified as Abdulsalam Ahmed and Jiyad Motahar.

Several other pro-separatism protesters were wounded, they said.

Al-Dhalee, some 245 km south of the capital Sanaa, is a key stronghold of the Southern Movement which seeks to end north-south union deal signed in 1990 and restore the south state after they accused northerners of seizing their oil resources and discriminating against the southerners.

Last week, the movement's leaders called for their followers to "burn voting cards and boycott the presidential elections in non- violent protests."

The riot showed the country's fragile security situation just less than two weeks ahead of the elections that would end the rule of outgoing President Ali Abduallah Saleh who is currently in the United States for medical treatment.

On Tuesday, Yemen's acting President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi launched his advertising campaign as the sole presidential candidate for the Feb. 21 polls, under a UN-backed power transfer deal brokered by neighboring oil-rich Gulf countries to end months of deadly protests.

Hadi pledged to launch national dialogue involving all Yemeni political forces, including the southern separatist group, after he takes power. He said the talks would be based on openness, equity and mutual respect.

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