Separatists intensify demands as Yemen's peace talks stall

Separatists intensify demands as Yemen's peace talks stall
Video: Mass protests in Aden attempt to draw attention to the plight of southerners calling for an end to Yemeni unification.
2 min read
18 April, 2016

Thousands have taken to the streets in Aden, the de-facto capital of a separatist movement, calling for the end to the country's unification, as the government awaits the start of peace talks in Kuwait.

Southerners from Aden, Dhalea Socotra Island and other major cities in the south descended upon the coastal city in an attempt to amplify their voices to officials in Kuwait, demanding independence and the right of self-determination. 

The "Million Man March" demonstrations, which started the evening before the talks were due to begin on Monday have continued for a second day - despite a delay that forced officials in Kuwait to push negotiations back to Tuesday.

Pro-secessionists, including Aden's governor, Aiderous al-Zubaidi, filled the city's biggest squares as security forces maintained a close eye on the area.

Red, white, black and blue flags - the colours of former South Yemen - covered the streets as protesters called for "the end of the northern occupation".

Upon unification in 1990, President Ali Abdullah Saleh - who had ruled the north for the previous 12 years - adopted a hostile approach towards the south, with many southerners feeling their land and resources such as oil reserves had been appropriated by the north.

Following the 1994 civil war, the perceived oppression of the south at the hands of the north continued, with hundreds of thousands of senior civic and military staff forcibly retired and dismissed from important positions; replaced with northern officials.

The Southern Movement - a grassroots movement attempting to uphold the rights of those in the southern parts of the country - was formed in 2007. It remains one of the groups vying for control in and around Aden.