Mar 25, 2011
Sana'a - An influential Yemeni cleric urged protesters on Friday to defy the current state of emergency, as thousands gathered in the centre of the capital Sana'a for protests dubbed the Friday of Departure.
'We heard about the state of emergency in Egypt before, and the people there defeated the state of emergency,' Abdel-Raqib Abad said during a Friday sermon, addressing tens of thousands praying in Taghyeer, or Change Square, near Sana'a University.
Yemen's parliament voted on Wednesday in support of imposing emergency law for 30 days, a motion requested by President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the midst of ongoing anti-government protests.
'People of Yemen, you have set a respectable image to the world. You gave up your weapons and united for change,' Abad said.
Abad said that the law meant 'further confiscation of freedoms.'
The law suspends the country's constitution, bans protests, and allows for arbitrary arrests and censorship.
After 32 years in power, Saleh has faced over a month of widespread protests calling for his ouster. Violent crackdowns by security forces have left dozens of protesters dead.
A number of army generals have defected and pledged their support to the protesters.
Earlier on Friday, Saleh proposed an amnesty for the soldiers who had defected to the opposition.
'We are concerned about the integrity and tenacity of the military institution and, therefore, we announce a public pardon for those who committed this mistake,' Saleh said.
He also suggested anti-government protesters form their own political party.
Large numbers of pro-government tribesmen flocked to the capital to support Saleh. The development might change the protesters' plans to march to the president's palace to avoid clashes with government loyalists.
Speaking with interior and defense leaders Thursday, Saleh blamed the opposition for price hikes and the scarcity of fuel after an attack on a power plant in Marib province and sieges at branches of the Central Bank of Yemen in Marib, Saada and Amran provinces.