Thousands of southern Yemenis rally in Aden in support of ex-governor
ADEN // Thousands of southern Yemenis rallied in Aden city’s Al Oroodh square on Thursday in support of the former governor who was transferred from his post by the president last week.
The demonstration underlines the difficulties facing president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi in his efforts to keep together a coalition of loyalist forces fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north.
Mr Hadi has relied heavily on militia recruited in the formerly independent south, where some have harboured a sense of marginalisation. That has often forced him into a difficult balancing act with his other supporters, which include loyalist army units from the north.
The pro-government forces are backed by a Saudi-led coalition that is seeking to restore Mr Hadi’s internationally recognised government and launch a national reconciliation process.
The Saudi-led coalition played a major role in the recapture of Aden and other southern provinces in 2015.
Participants in Thursday’s demonstration came from several southern provinces to show their backing for Aidarous Al Zabidi, who was removed from the Aden governorship on April 27.
Organisers of the rally issued a statement calling for Mr Al Zabidi to set up a “national leadership to represent the south” and pledged their allegiance to it.
“The new political entity will document strategic cooperation with the coalition of legitimate support, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to repel the Iranian tide and fight terrorism,” the statement said.
Speaking with Sky News Arabia yesterday, Mr Al Zabidi said, “Our relationship with the coalition is crucial.”
That sentiment was reflected in those participating in the demonstration.
“We believe that Zabidi has good relationship with the coalition countries, and he is a reasonable man, that is why southern people came from different provinces to participate in this demonstration,” said Mazen Obadi, 36, who came from Al Dhale province to take part in the rally.
“I want to thank the coalition countries for their work in the south and I hope to support Zabidi in his steps.”
Along with Mr Al Zabidi, Mr Hadi also removed state minister Hani bin Break. The two men played a key role in restoring security to Aden and adjacent provinces after the rebels were pushed out.
But they have rivals among northern generals who remained loyal to Mr Hadi.
* With reporting from Agence France-Presse
Updated: May 4, 2017 04:00 AM