Local News Political Analysis

After Sixteen Year Absence, Former President’s Image Returns to Aden

Pictures of the former South Yemeni president Ali Salem al-Beidh appeared again in the city of Aden after an absence of more than 16 years, when al-Beidh failed in his attempt to regain independence.

Since 1994, all media outlets, especially the official media, declined to show any picture of Ali Salem, who was described by media as the leader of the separatists.

The organizers of a seminar held by the League of Aden on January15th, 2011 surprised participants by showing off large-size images of the leader.

The front yard of Ibn Khaldoun Hall in the Faculty of Arts, which organized the symposium, was filled with a number of photos of controversial former political leaders, including a huge portrait of Ali Salem and the flags of the South that existed until the year 1990.

Displaying these symbols became taboo in recent years after separatist calls launched by the southern movement, who regularly lift up pictures of al-Beidh and the flags of the former Southern Republic.

At an earlier event, Aden University President Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Habtur,  mentioned in one of his speeches that the act was aimed at consolidating and approach of tolerance and reconciliation, although “there are extremists in every time and place.”

He also called for consolidating the values ​​of tolerance, and confronts all calls for destabilizing the situation in the South.

In 1990, Ali Salem al-Beidh signed a unity agreement with then President of the North Ali Abdullah Saleh to share power.  Bit on May 5, 1994, Civil War broke out and continued until 7th July of the same year with the support of some Gulf countries.

Al-Beidh, after losing the war fled to neighboring Oman, which provided him with political asylum and then citizenship on the condition that he doesn’t get involved in any political activity.

In May 21, 2009, n the anniversary of the unity between the two parts of Yemen, and in response of calls for peaceful secessionist movement  in southern Yemen, al-Beidh traveled to Europe and announced his intention to seek to break the union between the Republic of Yemen and the former People’s Democratic Republic.

He demanded that Arab States and the world support his claim for regaining Southern independence, claiming that the process of peaceful reunification ended after the 1994 war, resulting in the occupation of the South by the North.

Al-Beidh was supported by elements of the Yemeni Socialist Party and southern sheikhs and independent Islamic leaders all unaffiliated under the banner of peaceful movement of secession, who aim at disengagement.