Southern violence escalates
ADEN – In a press statement released on Saturday, the Higher Council for the Peaceful Southern Movement has called for civil disobedience on February 21 to prevent people from voting in south Yemen
Leaders and members of the movement who have called for independence for the south since 2007 have vowed to use force to prevent the holding of the election in southern governorates including Aden, Hadramout, Lahj, Al-Dhala, Shabwa and al-Mahra.
On Sunday, armed men from the movement in Lahj injured four soldiers in Al-Anad. The clashes occurred when soldiers attempted to enter ballot boxes belonging to the Al-Ushah polling station in Al-Anad.
Locals said they saw military enforcements of tanks and armored vehicles move into the area from Al-Anad military base.
In the neighboring governorate of Al-Dhala, two local leaders survived separate assassination attempts on Sunday.
Local sources in Al-Dhala said armed men fired into a car belonging to Al-Dhala’s deputy governor, Abdullah Al-Hadi, as he drove along the main road between Qa’raba and Al-Dhala.
Al-Hadi said that one of his guards was left with an injury on his hand and that the car’s windows were left smashed.
The governorate’s office said the same armed men also fired live ammunition at the head of the criminal investigation on the same main road, said Abd Al-Khaleq Shaya’.
The Southern Movement has escalated its activities in a bid to prevent Tuesday’s elections from taking place in Aden, Dhala, Hadramout and Lahj governorates.
Armed groups affiliated with the Southern Movement were seen erecting checkpoints on roads linking Dhala, Aden and Lahj, targeting passengers and looking for any documents relating to the elections.
Armed men in Lahj governorate assaulted an election office in the area of Faiosh on Saturday, exchanging fire with security forces, though there was no information given on any casualties.
Locals also told the Yemen Times that the Southern Movement in Sanah, in the north of Dhala, attacked a number of the election teams, seizing cash, cell phones and documents.
The election committee said in a statement that its busses had been stopped, windows smashed and one passenger, Fadhal Al-Makar, assaulted.
The Southern Movement, which is boycotting the election, says it will use force against anyone intending to vote.
Locals said that armed groups have been expanding in the region of Sanah, firing at citizens, confiscating people’s property, blackmailing passengers and inspecting their identity cards without authority.
News publications affiliated with the Southern Movement circulated what they said was a “fatwa” calling on southerners to boycott the elections and dubbing anyone who participates as a “traitor”.
“Participation gives legislation to an authoritarian regime,” stated the fatwa.
Abdul-Kareem Shaif, Secretary-General of Aden’s Local Council, said that a plan to secure the elections had been launched by Aden’s security committee in a bid to protect and stabilize the governorate so that elections can take place peacefully.
“Aden’s situation is stable and there should not be any concerns. These violent acts, committed by some outlaws, will not affect the elections, our stability or security,” he added.
The Yemeni News Agency, Saba, quoted security sources as saying that the security services had arrested a five-man terrorist cell, planning to disrupt the elections.
The source added that anyone who violated the rule of law or carried weapons inside the city would be arrested.
Meanwhile, local sources said that military reinforcements, including thousands of troops and dozens of armored vehicles, were deployed at the May 22 sports stadium in Al-Sheikh Othman where they send all other deployments to other areas of Aden.
In a statement to the Yemen Times, a security source said the soldiers arrived in Aden on Friday to safeguard the election process and make sure voters were not terrorized or intimidate.
However, Mohammad Al-Hakimi, Chief of the Supreme Commission of the Election and Referendum (SCER), revealed on Wednesday that the electoral committees had failed to reach eight ballot centers, one in Aden, four in Abyan and three in Lahj.
“It is unreasonable that teams from the electoral centers have stones thrown at them and are subjected to repeated assaults,” he said. “All while security and military forces are present.”