Yemenis hold anti- and pro-Saleh rallies

August 13, 2011 4:23 am

, SANAA, Aug 13 – Hundreds of thousands flooded Yemen’s streets Friday seeking victory against “tyrants,” a day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh said a Gulf Cooperation Council proposal for power transfer should be treated positively.

“God most merciful, grant us victory in (the Muslim holy fasting month of) Ramadan,” protesters chanted in Sittine Road, in a western district of the capital Sanaa.

“Revolt, revolt to all people against the tyrants,” they chanted on what they have named the Friday of “achieving victory.”

The protesters also called for “building a new Yemen.”

Similar protesters took place in the second-largest city Taez, as well as in Ibb, Hudaydah, Saada, Aden and Marib.

Meanwhile, Saleh’s supporters rallied in tens of thousands in Sabiine Square in Sanaa’s southern district chanting “the people want Ali Abdullah Saleh.”

They carried pictures of Saleh, recovering from bomb blast wounds in Riyadh, and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah on what they have named the Friday of “national alliance to protect constitutional legitimacy.”

Saleh, whose regime has been facing protests since January, said his ruling General People’s Congress party stresses the need to “continue to deal positively with the Gulf initiative,” Saba state news agency reported Thursday.

The president who has been in office since 1978, and whose term ends in 2013, insisted, however, that the implementation of the Gulf proposal should be done “in accordance with the constitution.”

The deal proposed by the Gulf Cooperation Council in April stipulated that Saleh would submit his resignation to parliament 30 days after passing power to his vice president, and tasking the opposition with forming a national unity government shared equally between the GPC and the opposition.

Presidential elections would follow two months later.

The deal faltered in May after Saleh kept procrastinating over signing it, and in early June he was nearly killed in a bomb attack on his Sanaa compound.

Despite his absence, Saleh has not transferred power to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, as family members who lead strong army and security forces appear to run the country.

Separately, gunmen allegedly linked to the Islamist Al-Islah (reform) party attacked a security post in Taez killing a member of the security forces and wounding another,” the defence ministry’s website quoted a security official as saying.

Two civilians were also wounded in the Thursday attack which described as a “breach of the truce” reached in Taez Tuesday.

Officials and tribal sources said Wednesday that a new truce has been reached in Taez, which has been the scene for sporadic clashes between troops and armed tribesmen backing pro-democracy protests.

Influential local tribes deployed armed men in Taez in June to protect protesters from attacks by troops loyal to the embattled president.

A previous truce reached at the end of June had collapsed early August as clashes were renewed, resulting in several deaths on both sides.

In Yemen’s southern city of Zinjibar, where the army has been battling Islamists who call themselves the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law), six militants were killed in overnight air raids by the army, a local official told AFP.

Hundreds of armed men belonging to the Al-Qaeda-linked group took control of most of Zinjibar in late May and laid siege to base of the 25th Mechanised Brigade.

US commanders have repeatedly expressed concern that the jihadists have been taking advantage of a protracted power vacuum in Sanaa to expand their operations.


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