Aden: Police fired live rounds and tear gas on Sunday to disperse protesters who tried to storm a hotel in southern Yemen to disrupt a meeting on national dialogue, wounding five people, activists and officials said.
National dialogue talks began in March and are due to run for six months to pave the way for a new constitution and elections in Yemen.
They bring together representatives of various political groups from secessionists in the southern city of Aden, where Sunday’s unrest erupted, to Zaidi Shiite rebels in the north, as well as civil society representatives
The protesters had gathered outside the hotel in Aden waving the flag of the formerly independent People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, calling for southern Yemen to break away from the north, witnesses said.
“We swear to God that Sanaa will not rule us,” the separatists chanted.
A security official told AFP that dozens of supporters of separatist exiled leader Ali Salem Al Beid “tried to break into” the hotel where national dialogue talks were underway.
“We dispersed them and forced them away from the hotel to protect the lives of the officials” meeting inside, he said.
One of the protesters, Ashan Al Shuaibi, said that police “fired live rounds and tear gas, wounding two people with bullets while three suffered breathing difficulties from the gas.”
He said “hundreds” took part in the protest in the Tawahi district of Aden “to reject the Sana’a dialogue.”
Al Beid, a member of the Southern Movement which is taking part in the national dialogue, is opposed to the talks and still campaigns for southern independence.
Hardliners led by Al Beid are demanding negotiations between two independent states in the north and south.
Supporters of southern independence often stage demonstrations against the national dialogue, especially in Aden.
After the former North and South Yemen united in 1990, the south broke away in 1994, triggering a short-lived civil war that ended with the region being overrun by northern troops.