Pro-secession rallies in Yemen spotlight tensions with UAE

AHMED AL-HAJ

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Thousands of southern Yemenis who support the secession of their region rallied in Aden on Thursday against the sacking of the city's governor.

President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi last week fired Aden's governor, Aidarous al-Zubaidi, along with Cabinet minister Hani Bin Braik. They are both believed to be close to the United Arab Emirates, a key member of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Yemen's Shiite rebels, also known as Houthis, since 2015.

The demonstration was held in the district of Khormaksar, where protesters announced in a statement that they are authorizing al-Zubaidi to form a political entity to represent southern Yemenis.

The demonstration took place amid tightened security but turnout was lower than anticipated. Security officials said that limited clashes took place between supporters of Hadi and the protesters.

Thursday's demonstration, and the sacking of al-Zubaidi and state minister Hani Bin Braik are the latest developments in an ongoing stand-off between Hadi and the Emiratis.

Relations between the two have been tense over allegations by the Yemeni president of UAE violations of his country's sovereignty, and that the latter is offering patronage to southern Yemeni politicians campaigning for secession.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman met with Hadi last weekend to ease the tension between Hadi and the UAE, according to Yemeni officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Aden has been the seat of Hadi's government since 2014, when the Houthis forced him out after seizing the capital, Sanaa.

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