Ibb Celebrates Unification amid National Tensions [Archives:2007/1053/Front Page]

May 21 2007

By: Ismail Al-Ghabri
SANA'A, May 23 ) Yemen celebrated the 17th anniversary of its reunification amid varying challenges and tensions in several governorates.

Dozens of military and civil pensioners, along with their counterparts in Lahj, Aden and Abyan, demonstrated in Al-Dhale' city, marching through the city streets and raising black flags to protest poor living conditions and price hikes.

The demonstration also witnessed extensive firing by security personnel in an effort to prevent demonstrators from reaching the main street. In their speeches, the event's organizers pointed out that it aimed to draw the state's attention to pensioners' rights confiscated since 1994.

Likewise, hundreds of citizens from Abyan's Al-Mahfed area blocked the main road linking Shabwa and Abyan governorates, denouncing what they described as authorities' attempts to deny them their deserved rights, according to AdenPress web site. The blockade was led by Sa'eed Al-Shahtor, a former military commander in the South Yemen army.

As per tradition, President Ali Abdullah Saleh delivered a speech on the occasion, emphasizing the importance of boosting democracy and decentralization, as well as fighting corruption.

Saleh noted that democracy should be associated with multiple political parties, freedom of opinion, respect for human rights and peaceful transfer of power. He further announced that festivals and military parades conducted on such occasions will be suspended for five years, but he later indicated that the next celebration will be in three years in Taiz.

In a statement published on NewsYemen web site, Yemen's Islah Party hinted that the failures and shortcomings involving every aspect of life shouldn't be attributed to Yemen's unification. It further demanded the government work to enhance the equal citizenship principle, as well as equal allocation of development projects and equal opportunities regarding public jobs, funds and media.

Similarly, the Joint Meeting Parties in Ibb governorate issued a statement on the eve of Tuesday's celebrations, wherein they voiced their anger against the policies of the ruling General People's Congress party, which they allege held the festivities simply for its influential affiliates while the occasion was a sad day for those affected by policies of deprivation and rampant corruption in all state institutions.

AdenPress web site published news of a symposium on Tuesday at London's University of Westminster, wherein participants stressed that Yemenis in the south should have the right to self-determination. The symposium was organized by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization

Participants reviewed the various stages and historical relations between North and South Yemen, concluding that unification wasn't afforded sufficient time to be successful and further, that it was wrong to cancel the transition period, which led to the 1994 Civil War.