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South Yemen independence inevitable: Al-Hirak leader - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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People take part in a rally commemorating the anniversary of South Yemen's independence from British colonial rule in the southern Yemeni city of Aden November 30, 2014. (Reuters/Yaser Hasan)

People take part in a rally commemorating the anniversary of South Yemen’s independence from British colonial rule in the city of Aden, on November 30, 2014. (Reuters/Yaser Hasan)

Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—The leader of Yemen’s secessionist movement Al-Hirak, Hassan Ba’oum, claimed on Monday that independence for South Yemen was only a matter of time, as pro-independence protests continued in the port city of Aden.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ba’oum confirmed that consultations are ongoing within Al-Hirak over the issue of secession and the restoration of the state of South Yemen, but stressed that any “escalation” the movement may take to secure southern independence would be peaceful.

Ba’oum added that Al-Hirak is discussing a timetable for declaring Southern independence, without divulging what steps or when Al-Hirak aims to take them. “Independence will be announced at the right time,” Ba’oum said.

His comments come as thousands of Yemenis rallied in Aden for independence on the 47th anniversary of the end of British colonial rule and the establishment of an independent state of South Yemen. Yemen unified in 1990 but faced immediate problems over perceived disparity between the north and the south, with a civil war eventually erupting in 1994.

Sources from within Al-Hirak, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said the movement would seek to take control of state institutes and infrastructure in the south of the country within the coming days as a prelude to declaring independence.

Southern Yemeni political parties and leaders are also holding intense meetings in Aden to reach a final agreement on what steps should be taken next, the sources added.

Asharq Al-Awsat spoke to a number of protesters in Aden who backed “escalation” measures to achieve independence, adding that Al-Hirak’s most recent actions had allowed Southerners’ demands to be heard both regionally and internationally.

Al-Hirak spokesman Ali Haitham Al-Ghareeb said that the movement is moving towards a consensus on what steps to take following reports of divisions within it. Ghareeb called for greater “coordination” across the south of the country, adding that what the movement had achieved with the protests in Aden should serve as a “model” for future action.

“The escalation in the next period will aim to topple [government] institutions through coordination between Al-Hirak and the employees and staff working at these institutions,” Ghareeb added.

The spokesman acknowledged that Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had addressed a number of Southerners’ grievances, but claimed that Al-Hirak remained committed to “peaceful protests” to achieve Southern independence, citing a “Southern revolutionary momentum.”