SANAA: The Yemeni government yesterday issued a public apology to southern separatists and northern Shia Muslim rebels for wars waged against them during former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule.
The apology, made in a cabinet statement read out on state television, comes amid national reconciliation talks launched in March to address grievances by large segments of the population. Delegates aim to chart major constitutional and administrative reforms ahead of national elections next year. “The government apologises for the war of the summer of 1994 and what the previous government did against the southerners, considering that a historic mistake that cannot be repeated,” the statement said.
It also apologised to residents of northern Saada province over repeated military campaigns that Saleh’s administration launched against rebels there between 2004 and 2010.
Civil war broke out between North Yemen and the former Marxist south in 1994, four years after the two countries merged into one state. Its consequences have fuelled secessionist demands for separation. Southern Yemenis have long complained of discrimination by the North, including the dismissals of tens of thousands of people from state jobs, seizure of state assets and private property and the withholding of state pensions from families of soldiers killed in the conflict.
Saleh battled northern Shia rebels seeking the restoration of the Zaidi imamate that ruled much of modern Yemen before it was overthrown in 1962. Thousands died in the fighting, which ended with a truce in 2010.