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Growing calls for independence referendum in southern Yemen

An independence movement in southern Yemen has led growing calls for a referendum on secession in the south of the country, as conflict continues in what has been termed a modern “humanitarian disaster”.

The call for Yemen to separate from the north and western provinces has gained popularity in the South with groups stating that they will defend their land but has not be addressed by the international community. The Southern Transitional Council (STC), a group which was established last year and has been advocating for the secession of Southern Yemen, expressed disappointment in the fact that they were excluded from the recent UN-held peace talks in Sweden. The discussion was held between Houthi rebels supported by Iran and the recognised government of Yemen supported by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and its Gulf allies. The issue of secession was not raised, added the STC.

Aidarus al-Zoubaidi, leader of the STC, told reporters that it was an imperative that an agreement is reached resolving the Southern Yemen issue. 

“The STC will aim to launch a dialogue with all Yemeni political parties and use all peaceful and democratic means to discuss the right of self-determination,” he said. “The southern people have been struggling since 1991 to restore the legitimacy of our land”.

He also expressed discontent with the current Prime Minister Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi stating,

“President Hadi has failed to listen to the people of Yemen and is unwanted.  He has no popularity in the south ... As far as the government is concerned, it is based in Aden but is unable to provide services and basic needs for people. It cannot play its role in any victory. Hadi’s project is not acceptable, neither in the north nor in the south.” 

Historically Yemen has only been a unified country since 1990 but has been beset by a four-year war between Houthi fighters and the central government. In 2015, the Houthi took over the country and forced President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee the country. He managed to escape to Aden the capital of Southern Yemen and reinstate his claim of authority.

See more from The Independent here.