Middle East News
Rival demonstrations continue across Yemen
Apr 2, 2011, 15:01 GMT
A Yemeni girl carried by an adult holds a piece of bread with the inscription reading in Arabic \'Go away\' during an anti-regime demonstration demanding the ouster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a, Yemen, 02 April 2011. Anti-regime demonstrations began in Yemen in February, with protesters calling for the ouster of Yemeni President Saleh who has been in power since 1978. Saleh has rejected demands to step down, saying those who were against him should challenge him in elections due in 2013. EPA/YAHYA ARHAB
Sana'a - Thousands of pro and anti-government demonstrators took to the streets of the Yemeni capital Sana'a on Saturday, as President Ali Abdullah Saleh blamed the opposition for the unrest that continues to grip the country.
Supporters of Saleh held a demonstration in Tahrir square, while anti-government protesters continued their sit-in in Taghyeer square, the focal point of anti-government demonstrations since they began in February.
The anti-government protesters rebuffed a speech by Saleh on Friday, in which he vowed to 'sacrifice all what is precious for the sake of the Yemeni people.' Some dubbed the speech as 'April's Foul,' a pun in reference to its delivery on what is commonly known as April Fool's Day. Others called for him to leave.
Protests demanding the ouster of the longtime leader also continued in the provinces of Aden, Taiz and Sa'ada.
In the south-western Hudeidah province, seven anti-government protesters were reportedly injured when police attempted to storm their sit-in early Saturday, according to opposition media sources.
More than a thousand protesters have been camping out in what has come to be known as Change Square in the Red Sea province of Hudeidah for over a month.
In a meeting with Yemeni youth leaders, Saleh said opposition members are liars and responsible for the blood shed in the ongoing political crisis.
'The blame falls on them, not on the regime. Their illegitimate ambitions and uncivilized behavior are the reasons behind the crisis, and they want to reach power by coups,' Saleh said in remarks carried by state media.
He said that the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) opposition coalition were responsible for an attack on protesters that left 52 dead and hundreds injured.
Security forces have repeatedly attacked protesters calling for Saleh's ouster. However, this assault has increased public anger against Saleh.
'The JMP are responsible for all this bloodshed, they are behind this crisis, and they are responsible for causing panic and unrest among citizens,' Saleh added.
In a statement on its website, the JMP said Saturday a joint vision over steps and procedures for transferring power is being drafted and will be published soon.
'I believe the youth uprising will succeed unconditionally within days or weeks,' JMP spokesman Mohammed Qahtan told the German Press Agency dpa by phone.
He noted ongoing efforts by US, British, EU and Gulf Cooperation Counil representatives to find a way to peacefully transfer power and end the current crisis.
Meanwhile, workers in the southern port city of Aden went on strike Saturday, in an action coordinated by anti-regime protesters to escalate protests and force president Saleh out. The protesters seek to spread the labour action to cities across Yemen.
Demonstrations began in Yemen in February, following popular uprisings against long-time rulers in Tunisia and Egypt.
President Saleh has been in power since 1978 and is a key US ally.
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