Sana’a, Asharq Al-Awsat—Members of Yemeni Southern separatist movement Al-Hirak announced their withdrawal from the Yemen National Dialogue Conference on Wednesday amid reports of sharp divisions within the movement.
“The approach and principles of the national dialogue have forced us to completely withdraw from the conference, and we hold all the parties that placed obstacles in our path responsible for this decision,” a statement attributed to Al-Hirak Movement representative Mohamed Ali Ahmed said.
Ahmed, who is a senior member of the Al-Hirak Movement delegation to the dialogue, added that the decision to withdraw was made after “the failure of all noble intentions to find urgent solutions to the Southern issue, despite the efforts by some political parties and the UN envoy.”
He accused “parties and centers of power in the Sana’a regime of emptying the Southern issue of its content,” adding that the decision to withdraw was taken after the National Dialogue had reached a “dead end.”
The statement added that the Southern movement had sent more than 23 messages to the ambassadors of the Group of 10 that are sponsoring the Gulf Initiative, but they did not respond.
However, a second statement by the Al-Hirak movement was issued on Thursday, denying the walkout and affirming that the Southern movement remains committed to the national dialogue.
The statement, carried by Yemen’s state news agency and attributed to the Al-Hirak Political Committee, said: “We have not and will not withdraw from the National Dialogue Conference no matter what sacrifices must be made, so that we do not leave the Southern issue subject to the desires of a single person or group of people who want to turn this issue into nothing more than a paper to invest or exploit for personal gains.”
The Al-Hirak official statement affirmed: “Based on our historic responsibility, we confirm that we will never give up on the hopes and desires of the people of the South.”
For its part, the UN Security Council voiced hopes of seeing an early conclusion to the national dialogue following a number of extensions.
Liu Jieyi, the Chinese UN ambassador who holds the rotating council presidency for November, said in a statement to the press: “The members of the Security Council expressed concern, however, about the significant delays in concluding the National Dialogue Conference and emphasized the importance of concluding the National Dialogue Conference as soon as possible to move to constitutional drafting and electoral preparations, as the next steps in the transition.”
Liu added: “They called on all parties to engage constructively in a spirit of compromise to address the remaining critical issues necessary to conclude the dialogue, in particular those concerning the southern question and the structure of the State.”