Yemen’s former Aden governor, who has declared a council that seeks secession for southern Yemen, said late on Friday a referendum on independence would be announced soon.
Aidaroos al-Zubaidi, who governed Yemen’s main southern city of Aden until he was sacked at the end of April by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, made his announcement during an interview with a local news channel.
He also said that an important announcement would be made on Saturday during a gathering called for by the council he presides over to celebrate 54 years since Yemen’s Oct. 14, 1963 uprising against the British.
Zubaidi announced on May 11 the new council formed by senior tribal, military and political figures. The council seeks the secession of southern Yemen and is looking to establish a political leadership under his presidency that would represent and administer the south.
The move threatens more turmoil in the impoverished Arabian Peninsular country where the internationally-recognized government is forced to sit in Aden because Houthi rebels control the capital Sanaa.
The council was born out of a power struggle between the southerners and President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi that has undermined regional power Saudi Arabia’s efforts to coordinate a military campaign against the Tehran-supported Houthis.
Hadi’s government has rejected the formation of the council, saying it would deepen divisions and play into the hands of the Houthi rebels.
Many southerners feel that officials in the north have exploited their resources and cut them off from jobs and influence.