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Thousands rally in southern Yemen for self-rule

Marches held to coincide with 45th anniversary of country’s independence

Gulf News

Sana’a: Thousands of Yemenis have rallied across the country’s south to mark the 45th anniversary of independence from British occupation and demand autonomy from the north.

The calls for an autonomous state in the south — which was once a separate country — have compounded Yemen’s many problems as it struggles with a resurgent Al Qaida and precarious economic situation amid a deep political crisis.

Southerners joined a unified Yemen in 1990 but demands for secession from the north have been persistent.

Security forces have cracked down on southerners’ protests since 2007 but no major violence was reported during the rallies on Friday. Some participants at the rallies demanded secession.

Protests in the south also contributed to the sparks that ignited the Arab Spring uprising last year in Yemen, leading to the eventual exit of longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh.