ADEN, Yemen — A celebration by thousands of Yemenis marking the first anniversary of the country’s presidential election was interrupted by a shootout on Thursday between government forces and disgruntled members of a southern independence movement, officials said.
Two separatists were killed in the clash that began as President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s supporters gathered in the main square of the city of Aden on Yemen’s southwest coast to send a message that the central government is in control of southern Yemen after years of lawlessness.
The demonstrators carried Hadi’s posters and marked his one-candidate referendum. The vote drew an end to a yearlong uprising that ousted the longtime autocratic rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh stepped down as part of US-backed power transfer deal that gave him immunity from prosecution.
Wahid Ali Rashed, the governor of Aden, told the gathering: ‘‘Unity will continue.’’
But that sentiment is not shared by a strong majority of southerners who want to separate from the north after what they say are years of discrimination. And the shooting showed the limits of the government’s ability to practice its authority.