The Saudi-led coalition engaged in Yemen on Monday urged a leading separatist group that declared self-rule in the south to rescind its move, saying it was an “escalatory action” at a time all parties should focus on confronting the novel coronavirus.
The move by the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) threatens to renew conflict between the STC and the Saudi-backed government, nominal allies under the coalition, even as the United Nations tries to secure a permanent nationwide ceasefire over the coronavirus pandemic.
U.N. Yemen envoy Martin Griffiths said he was concerned by the developments.
“Now, more than ever, all political actors must cooperate in good faith, refrain from taking escalatory actions, and put the interests of Yemenis first”, he said in a statement.
Yemen’s internationally recognised government warned of “catastrophic consequences” after the STC on Sunday declared emergency rule in southern governorates including Aden, interim seat of the government that was ousted from power in the capital, Sanaa, by the Houthi group in late 2014.
“The Coalition urges an immediate end to any steps contrary to the Riyadh Agreement, and work rapidly toward its implementation,” the alliance said in a statement, referring to a power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia in November.
It voiced support for the Saudi-backed government and said implementation of the deal would form a “competent government” based in Aden to tackle the novel coronavirus, recent flooding and other economic and developmental challenges.
Yemen has been mired in violence that has killed more than 100,000 since the coalition intervened in March 2015 on Hadi’s side. There has been military stalemate for years and the Houthis hold most big urban centres.