Angry protesters have been peacefully pushed back after they stormed the presidential palace in Yemen’s southern city of Aden, the seat of the war-torn country’s internationally-recognised government.
Demonstrators had broken into the Maashiq Presidential Palace earlier on Tuesday amid public anger over the lack of services, poor living conditions and depreciation of the local currency.
A government official told Al Jazeera Yemeni and Saudi forces evacuated members of the cabinet, including Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, to a military building situated near the palace grounds.
Local sources told Al Jazeera the protesters had found no resistance from forces loyal to the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC). Some carried flags of the STC separatist movement.
Shortly after the incident, a government source said Aden’s police chief, General Mutaher al-Shuaibi, arrived at the scene to talk to protesters and convinced them to leave.
Al Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal said the protesters are members of the national security forces who have not been paid for nine months.
The palace, which the government had taken as its headquarters, is guarded by Saudi troops on the inside, Elshayyal said.
“But from the outside, it is guarded by the separatists – the STC – which is backed by the United Arab Emirates, which in theory is meant to be backing Saudi Arabia but in reality has been supporting the separatists that have been calling for a secession,” he explained.
Meanwhile, a separate demonstration broke out in Yemen’s eastern city of Sayoun in Hadramout province, after dozens of people stormed a governmental complex in protest against dire living conditions and continuous increases in prices.
Forces affiliated with Yemen’s internationally-recognised government fired shots in the air to disperse the crowds while protesters burned car tyres in the streets nearby.
The STC condemned the government forces’ response to the protests.
Yemen has been racked by violence and instability since 2014, when Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.
In the south, a new unity government was formed last year under a power-sharing deal brokered by Riyadh, in a bid to end the power struggle between the separatist STC and loyalists to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is backed by Saudi Arabia.
The goal was to unite both sides in the fight against the Houthis, who control the country’s northern areas.