Yemen provinces reject separatists’ claim to self-rule

SANAA, YEMEN (AP) — Authorities in five southern provinces in Yemen yesterday rejected a separatist group’s claim to self-rule, further heightening tensions among ostensive allies in the Saudi-led coalition battling Iran-aligned rebels elsewhere in the country.

The separatists’ Southern Transitional Council (STC), which is backed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), scrapped a peace deal with the Saudi-backed government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and declared a state of emergency overnight.

The separatists said they would “self-govern” the key southern port city of Aden and other southern provinces, accusing the government of corruption and mismanagement.

The government said local and security authorities in the provinces of Hadramawt, Abyan, Shabwa, al-Mahra and the remote island of Socotra dismissed the move as a “clear and definite coup”. Some of the provinces issued their own statements condemning it.

The separatists overran Aden, the temporary seat of Hadi’s government, and key southern provinces in August. The STC seeks the return of the independent state that existed in the south until 1990.

In November, the two sides reached a power-sharing agreement meant to end the infighting and unify ranks against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. But the agreement has yet to be implemented.

Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when the Houthis took control of the country’s north, including the capital, Sanaa.