warn of growing instability
by Brian Whitaker
Originally published in The Guardian, 7 October
EXILED southern Yemeni leaders warned of growing instability
yesterday, and urged President Ali Abdullah Saleh to make peace with them.
Despite their defeat in the civil war three months ago -
and the fact that several of them are wanted on charges of treason and war crimes - the
seven exiles insist that circumstances will eventually force the president into dialogue.
Speaking in London before touring Arab capitals, Abd
al-Rahman al-Jifri, who was vice-president of the short-lived Democratic Republic of
Yemen, said high prices were a sign of the country's economic crisis. The sacking of
50,000 government employees last week would increase hardship.
"There will be a lot of trouble in Aden - either from
our people or the fanatics,' he said.
Salem Saleh Mohammed, former deputy leader of the
Socialist Party, said the president faced growing international pressure to negotiate.
An improvement in Yemeni-Saudi relations was essential for
regional stability, he said. 'This won't be achieved unless the regime in Sana'a accepts
our call for reconciliation.' Last week the exiles announced the formation of a National
Their statement made no mention of the attempt last May to
establish a separate state in Yemen. Instead, it said they would work for national unity.
Abdullah al-Asnaj, who was foreign minister of the
breakaway state, said the group was seeking to work with other elements inside Yemen.
"Peaceful resistance is the right course," he said. This conciliatory line
contrasts with the threat of guerrilla resistance issued by southern leaders as the war
Asked if their real objective was the removal of President
Saleh, Mr Asnaj said: 'We want to see that a proper system of decent government is
installed. We shouldn't allow a military sergeant to get hold of Yemen and deal with it as
if it were part of his private property. This man says he is trying to stop corruption: he
should start with himself.'