Separatist south Yemen leader vows independence referendum 'soon'
A former governor of Aden who is leading a movement for southern Yemen's secession says an independence referendum will be announced soon, with a parliamentary body due to be set up to administer the territory.
The move threatens more chaos in the war-torn country, where the internationally-recognised government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is forced to sit in Aden because Houthi rebels control the capital Sana'a.
Aidaroos al-Zubaidi, who was sacked as Aden governor by Hadi, set out his secessionist plans to thousands of supporters who gathered on Saturday in Aden to mark 54 years since the October 1963 uprising against British colonialists.
Zubaidi told the crowds that a new 303-member parliamentary body called the National Association would act like a small parliament to represent Yemenis from all areas of the south.
In May, Zubaidi announced a new council composed of senior tribal, military and political figures which seeks the secession of southern Yemen through the establishment of a political leadership under his presidency which would administer the south.
Hadi's government rejected the formation of the council, saying it would deepen divisions and play into the hands of the Houthi rebels.
Despite Yemen's unification in 1990, secessionists in the south have continued to feel marginalised by power brokers in Sana'a, repeatedly calling for independence from the north.
More than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen's ongoing war, which has also pushed the country to the brink of famine.