Sana’a and Aden, Asharq Al-Awsat—Divisions within the Southern secessionist Al-Hirak movement prevented the group’s declaring the independence of the South from the rest of Yemen on Sunday, senior sources within the movement told Asharq Al-Awsat, as the group’s supporters continue their demonstrations in the southern port city of Aden.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there were two clear strands within the movement, one represented by Al-Hirak’s spiritual leader, Hassan Ba’oum, and the other by the former president of the independent South Yemen, Ali Salim Al-Beidh.
They said these divisions had prevented a “united front” among the group and the anticipated announcement of independence on Sunday, amid mass rallies drawing in thousands of people calling for the restoration of South Yemen on the 47th anniversary of the country’s independence from British rule and its splitting into two Northern and Southern states.
However, the sources added there were ongoing talks between these factions, and that a unified announcement would soon be made by the group.
Meanwhile, activists from the movement said one person was killed and eight injured on Sunday after security forces attempted to disperse protesters who tried to raise the flag of the Southern state on top of the Aden governorate building and the state oil company’s headquarters in the city.
Aden, which was previously the capital of the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen—or South Yemen—has seen mass demonstrations for over a month, largely led by Al-Hirak and its supporters.
President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi called in a televised address on Saturday for the protesters to give the country’s new government—formed following the Houthi takeover of the country’s capital, Sana’a, in September—a chance to address their concerns.
“I call on the sons of the South to be part of the solution and not part of the problem, and to coordinate with the new government to put forward your demands and have your voices heard, and to voice any of your criticisms of the new government’s performance,” Hadi said.
The demonstrations in Aden are the latest in a wave of unrest which has hit the country since month-long demonstrations by the Shi’ite Houthi movement led to their takeover of Sana’a and other parts of the country in September, amid an almost complete absence of security and military presence across the country.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is also continuing its attacks in the north of the country, and since October mass rallies in the south of the country calling for independence have also complicated the picture.
The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen was created following the country’s independence from Britain on November 30, 1967. North Yemen—or the Yemeni Arab Republic—and the South then reunited in 1990, with the South then declaring independence once again in May 1994, which resulted in a civil war and the military occupying South Yemen again in July of that year.