Southern Movement members plan to use force on election day

Published on 13 February 2012 in News
Fuad Mussed (author)

Fuad Mussed

Armed men from the Southern Movement storm Freedom Square at Crater in Aden, where anti-government protesters have been camped for the past year.

Armed men from the Southern Movement storm Freedom Square at Crater in Aden, where anti-government protesters have been camped for the past year.

ADEN – Two persons  were killed and dozens wounded on Thursday in Dhala’a governorate when fighting broke out between gunmen from the Southern Movement (Alhirak Aljanobi) and soldiers tasked with guarding ballot centers.

The Southern Movement gunmen were attempting to raid an election committee headquarters.

Eyewitnesses saw dozens of armed men from the Southern Movement move towards an election committee location and said they had attempted to storm it as part of their protest activities and as a rejection of early presidential elections being held.

These events were accompanied by threats raised from Southern Movement members, made against people who intend to vote in the presidential election.

Locals told the Yemen Times that they had seen leaflets containing death threats for citizens who plan to vote distributed in Dhala’a.

On Friday, Mohammed Al-Faqeeh, preacher for Dhala’a’s main mosque, called on people from the Southern Movement to amend for those members who made threats, and urged everyone to renounce violence. “Ultimately, people will abhor any parties that incite violence.”

In particular, the heads and members of election committees in Dhala’a governorate have received threats from Southern Movement members.

Adnan Omairan, the head of an election committee in Dhala’a, said that armed groups attempted to assault him on Tuesday as he traveled with election process documents from the governorate’s capital.

In Dhala’a’s Al-Shoiab district, Ali Mohammed, a leader of the Southern Movement, said that voters would be endangered, and indicated that Southern Movement members would be forced to use their weapons or else their movement would be put at risk by the elections.

“In the event that turbulence caused by the armed men continues, and if security forces fail to protect voters, the possibility of wide participation will be limited,” said a resident of Dhala’a. “In some areas completely controlled by the Southern Movement, elections would not be held.”

A security source said that armed gangs and outlaws always keep an eye on election committees, teams and ballot centers, and pointed out that security forces would assume responsibility for the successful management of the election.

“Security forces have been deployed to most ballot centers to secure election sites and protect voters,” he added.

Previously, hundreds of armed men from the Southern Movement stormed the Freedom Square at Aden’s Crater area and set fire to tents erected by protesters.

Eyewitnesses said Southern Movement members, with senior leaders in the lead, went to the square and attacked and confiscated the cameras of journalists attempting to take photos of the scene.

Ali Qasim, head of the organization committee for Anad Square, said all the equipment and materials at the square were looted or destroyed.

Qasim said the attack was carried out with the use of Molotov cocktails, and added that protesters and journalists were beaten by the armed men.