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Yemen's southern separatists announce plan for self-rule

Yemen’s separatist Southern Transitional Council says it will establish self-ruled administration in regions under its control
STC fighters broke away from Yemen's internationally recognised government last August, before agreeing to peace in November (AFP/File photo)

Yemen’s separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) announced on Sunday that it would establish a self-ruled administration in the regions under its control, a move the internationally recognised Saudi-backed government denounced as having “catastrophic consequences” for a November peace deal.

Under an accord to end the power struggle in south Yemen agreed in Riyadh, the STC - which is backed by the  United Arab Emirates - and other southerners were to join a new national cabinet and place all forces under control of the internationally recognised government.

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“The announcement by the so-called transitional council of its intention to establish a southern administration is a resumption of its armed insurgency... and an announcement of its rejection and complete withdrawal from the Riyadh agreement," the foreign ministry of exiled President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi said in a statement on Twitter.

"The so-called transitional council will bear alone the dangerous and catastrophic consequences for such an announcement," it said.

In November, Yemen's internationally recognised government and the southern separatists signed a Saudi-brokered agreement to end their power struggle in the war-torn region.

"This agreement will open a new period of stability in Yemen. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands with you," Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said at the signing ceremony in Riyadh, which was aired on state television.

The UAE-backed separatist STC was nominally allied to Hadi's Saudi-backed government, but the two sides fell out in August, with the separatists seizing control of Aden.

The clashes between the southern separatists and government forces, who for years fought on the same side against the Houthis, had raised fears that the country might break apart entirely.

South Yemen was an independent country from 1967, following the UK's withdrawal as the ruling colonial power in Aden, until 1990 when it unified with the Yemen Arabic Republic.