Security measures tightened in Yemen's Aden ahead of protests

Security measures tightened in Yemen
# 20 February 2013 17:23 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Security forces were on high alert across Yemen's southern port city of Aden on Wednesday ahead of rallies pro- and against the first anniversary of the uncontested election of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The Yemeni troops were deployed on the streets in Aden as both separatist activists and pro-unity supporters had called for mass rallies to mark the first anniversary of the presidential election that ended the unrest in 2012, a military official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

"The measures were taken to avoid any bid to undermine Aden's security and disrupt celebrations marking the anniversary and to avoid any possible clashes between supporters and opponents of President Hadi," the security official said.

Military checkpoints have also been set up at the main entrances of Aden, the ex-capital of the formerly independent south, local residents said.

Earlier in the day, a leader of Yemen's secessionist Southern Movement, along with three of his followers, was detained by police troops in Aden, a pro-secessionist activist told Xinhua.

Police troops arrested Qussim Askar Jubran who heads a bloc in the supreme council of the pro-secession Southern Movement and the main organizer of separatist protests in Aden and southern regions in recent months, according to the activist.

The security authorities have threatened to use force against " anyone who tries to derail anniversary festivities."

The fear of fresh clashes and violence mounted as leaders of the Southern Movement called for massive rallies in Aden to " reject the election that brought Hadi to power and pursue the struggle until liberation of the south."

A leaflet circulated in Aden by the secessionist movement warned the pro-unity Islamists of Muslim Brotherhood, known as Islah Party in Yemen, of holding gatherings in Aden and called for civil disobedience in the city.

Hadi was elected in February 2012 as president after Yemeni rival parties signed in the Saudi capital of Riyadh a power transfer deal, under which former President Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in return for a complete immunity from prosecution and handed over power to his then deputy Hadi following one-year deadly protests that killed more than 2,000 people.

The president has called for separatist groups in the country's southern regions to take part in the planned reconciliation national dialogue to settle disputes and promised to compensate them.

Separatist sentiment escalated after northern troops overran southern regions following a four-month civil war in 1994. Southerners complain of being economically and politically marginalized and discriminated.