Tensions soar at southern Yemen protest camp

Since mid-October, a protest encampment has been spreading out across the dirt and asphalt of Al-Orod Square in the southern Yemeni port town of Aden. According to those who oversee the day-to-day management of the ragged collection of makeshift tents, the population of the camp has swelled over the past week to 5,000 from 3,000.

The people gathering at Al-Orod have only one thing on their minds. "Those [expletive] people in the north, they don't care about us, and [President Abd Rabbu Mansour] Hadi is just a puppet for [them]," said Ali Mohammed Saleh, a retired oil worker who supports Hirak al-Janoubi, or the Southern Movement, a loose coalition of ideologically diverse groups aiming to undo a 24-year-old unity pact between the formerly separate northern and southern republics of Yemen.

Passions have been running high, both at the camp and across the territory of the former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY), or "South Yemen", comprising the southern tip and much of the east of the modern state.  

Sunday marks the 47th anniversary of south Yemen's independence from the British empire, and organisers of the Al-Orod protest are planning to make an announcement on what will happen next.

"Tomorrow is the anniversary of our independence from the British, and, inshallah, it will also be the anniversary of our independence from the north," said Mohsen Saleh Omar, who has decorated a tent that was once the property of the UN with a portrait of Qahtan al-Shaabi, the first president of the socialist PDRY.