Hundreds of Yemeni protesters, led by members of the military and loyalist militias, stormed the government headquarters in Aden on Tuesday demanding unpaid salaries.
Officials and ministers fled the Maasheeq Palace, the separatist Southern Transitional Council’s Security Belt Forces said in a tweet shortly after the demonstration began.
Security forces reportedly fired gun shots to push the protesters back and stop them from entering the palace's vicinity.
Col Abdel Malik Hussein Jabar, who used to be part of the South Yemeni administration before reunification in 1990, called on the current government to implement the Riyadh agreement on power sharing between southern forces and the administration of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi.
"The government has failed to pay the army and security forces salaries, we have waited three months,” he said.
Among the demonstrators calling for unpaid wages were members of the public who said they want more to be done to address the dire situation in the country.
"The public is exhausted, there's no food, no services, nothing, zero. … We need the international community to intervene, we are only asking for our rights to have a country," Aref Muqbal, one of the protesters, told The National.
After storming the palace, demonstrators withdrew to the main gates.
Security forces have surrounded the area to avert violence.
Some of the protesters set up tents outside the palace and say they will not leave until their demands are met.
The Riyadh power sharing agreement, first announced in November 2019 and revived in July 2020, was brokered by Saudi Arabia to end a stand-off between Yemen’s internationally recognised government and southern separatists who are both part of the coalition that has been battling the Iran-backed Houthi rebels since 2015.
The STC has said it was under-represented in the old administration and should be given a greater say in decision-making given the oversized role its fighters play in the battle against the rebels.
The unity government took office in December 2020, with more STC aligned ministers. It returned to Aden, the de-facto capital, on December 30 to take up work.