Gulf | Yemen

Southern Movement ‘to participate in dialogue’

Agreement comes two days after UN Security Council warned former South Yemeni leader of sanctions

  • DPA
  • Published: 13:17 February 18, 2013
  • Gulf News

Cairo: A major faction of Yemen’s secessionist Southern Movement has agreed to take part in the country’s upcoming National Dialogue Conference, the conference’s preparatory committee announced on Sunday.

Amal Al Basha, spokeswoman for the preparatory committee, said that the Southern People’s Conference had sent a list of representatives to President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Another group led by southern politician Abdullah Al Nakhibi had also nominated representatives, Al Basha said.

The Southern Movement, which seeks independence or autonomy for the former state of South Yemen, is the only major political force in Yemen which has been reluctant to take part in the National Dialogue Conference.

The conference, due to start on March 18, is a key step in the internationally backed process to resolve Yemen’s political strife.

Half of its 565 seats are reserved for the south, including 85 for the Southern Movement, which is split into several competing factions.

The news comes two days after the United Nations Security Council warned former South Yemeni leader Ali Salim Al Beidh of possible sanctions if he was seen to be obstructing the transition process.

Al Beidh, who led the Marxist South into unity with the more populous North Yemen in 1990, is a leading hardliner who along with others want to re-establish the former state.

He has lived in exile since southern forces were defeated in a 1994 civil war.

The Security Council’s warning also singled out former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is widely seen as resisting Hadi’s attempts to stamp his authority on the poverty-stricken Arabian country.

Yemen suffers from widespread poverty, a looming food crisis, and the presence of Al Qaida-linked militants.

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