Southern Yemeni separatist security members patrol a street during a campaign to arrest unlicensed motorcycles in Aden [File: Fawaz Salman/Reuters]
A Saudi Arabia-led military coalition has rejected a separatist group's declaration of self-rule in Yemen's south, demanding "an end to escalatory actions" and return to a peace deal signed in November last year.
The Saudi statement on Monday comes a day after Yemen's Southern Transitional Council (STC) declared a state of emergency and announced "self-administration rule" in regions under their control, including in the port city of Aden.
The key city serves as the interim capital of the internationally recognized and Saudi-backed government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The STC and Hadi's forces are supposed allies in Yemen's complicated conflict and both have fought together in the Saudi-led coalition's war against the Houthi rebels, who overran parts of northern Yemen in 2014, including the capital, Sanaa.
But the STC turned on Hadi's government in August last year and seized Aden. The fighting stopped when the two groups reached a deal in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
In its statement on Monday, the Saudi-led coalition urged the council to return to the terms of the Riyadh agreement. That deal had called for all sides to remove heavy military equipment from Yemeni cities under their control and form a unity government that included equal representation.
But that had yet to be implemented as the war continued and enormous floods struck Aden, killing at least 21 people earlier this month. Compounding the troubles, Yemen on April 10 announced its first case of the COVID-19.
The Saudi-led coalition said it "demands an end to any escalatory actions and calls for a return to the agreement by the participating parties".
The deal "entails forming a competent government that operates from the interim capital Aden to tackle economic and developmental challenges, in light of natural disasters such as floods, fears of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, and work to provide services to the brotherly people of Yemen". (Al Jazeera)