Yemeni tribal and government officials reported ongoing efforts to negotiate the withdrawal of al Qaeda-linked militants from Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan. Tariq al Fadhli, one of the mediators, said that the government had sent a team of six parliamentarians that is headed by Awad al Wazir. Fadhli, who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan and backed the secessionist movement in April 2009, said that the militants, operating under the name Ansar al Sharia, have demanded that shari’a be implemented in the city. A second round of negotiations would seek the full withdrawal of the militants from Yemeni towns. Fighting for control of Zinjibar is ongoing: four al Qaeda-linked militants and a soldier were killed late Saturday outside of the city during an attack on a Yemeni army base.
Southern Movement supporters attacked a march in support of the upcoming Yemeni presidential election in Aden. Over thirty demonstrators were reported to have been injured. Opposition factions, including parts of the Southern Movement, have called for a boycott of the February 21 election. Ali Salim al Beidh, the former president of south Yemen and a secessionist leader, accused al Islah (Reform) party of organizing demonstrations in support of the election “pretending . . . the south [supports] the comedy of this election.”
The leader of the al Houthi movement, Abdul Malik al Houthi, released a statement calling for the formation of a caretaker government and the overthrow of the Yemeni regime. He wrote by email, “We demand the Yemenis also commissioned [sic] experts to formulate a new constitution, and the formation of a national body to restructure the army based on national rules.” The al Houthis have announced a boycott of the February 21 presidential election. Supporters of the al Houthis have been engaged in clashes with Sunni tribes and Salafist fighters in Hajjah and Sa’ada governorates.
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