South Yemen leader 'may be abroad'

South Yemen leader 'may be abroad'

by Brian Whitaker 

Originally published in The Guardian, 30 June 1994

MYSTERY surrounded the whereabouts of Ali Salim al-Baidh, president of Yemen's breakaway southern state, yesterday. His deputy, Abd al-Rahman al-Jifri, denied radio reports that Mr Baidh had gone abroad for hospital treatment after being wounded.

"I was with Mr Baidh on the telephone all night and I assure you this is just another lie. He is fine and well," Mr Jifri said.

Nevertheless, Mr Baidh himself has so far failed to deny the report, broadcast by Tehran radio and Radio Monte Carlo and said to be propaganda circulated by opponents.

Confusion about his whereabouts began last Sunday when the defence minister in the breakaway government claimed that he was back in Aden after spending several weeks in Mukalla, 400 miles away. Other officials in Aden denied it. The same day, Aden television showed Mr Baidh in Mukalla meeting tribal leaders - though the meeting is believed to be one reported in the press a week earlier. Egyptian sources said Mr Baidh recently had a row with his Saudi backers.