Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yemenis demonstrate against Gulf mediation deal

SANAA, Apr 12, 2011- (AP) Tens of thousands of Yemenis demonstrated across the country on Tuesday against a mediation proposal by neighboring Gulf nations because it offers the president immunity from prosecution.

Protesters in the capital Sanaa carried flowers to give to security forces and wore signs saying they were ready to die as they repeated their two-month-old call for Yemen's president to leave office after 32 years.

Yemen has been wracked by protests since mid-February demanding Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign because of the country's lack of freedoms and extreme poverty. In the ensuing crackdown, 120 people have been killed.

The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council offered its own proposal Sunday to end the unrest and called on Saleh to transfer power to his deputy as part of a deal with the opposition.

The deal did not, however, specify a timeframe and included immunity from prosecution for Saleh and his family.

"The initiative does not clearly mention the immediate departure of the head of the regime and it did not touch on the fate of his relatives who are at the top military and security agencies that continue killing the peaceful protesters," said the anti-government Civil Alliance of the Youth Revolution in a statement.

The alliance, which includes 30 youth groups, said the GCC proposals were an attempt to abort the peaceful revolution.

Protesters carried banners reading "after bloodshed, Saleh should be tried" and "you (Saleh) will not escape unpunished." Hundreds of army and security officers in uniform also took part in Tuesday's demonstration.

Lt. Col. Mohammed al-Khollani said the participation of him and his fellow officers was to "tell our military colleagues that your right place is among the revolutionaries and the revolution."

Similar demonstrations were also held in the cities of Taiz, Aden, Ibb, Hadramawt, Saada and Thamar.

In response, the president's office issued a statement saying Saleh "has repeatedly expressed no reservations to the peaceful and smooth transfer of power within the constitution," which would allow him to remain in office until the 2013 elections — an option long rejected by protesters.

Pro-government groups went beyond the president's carefully worded remarks, however, and in a joint statement rejected the GCC offer as a "flagrant interference in Yemen's internal issues."

According to the official SABA news agency, the statement denounced the GCC and said their move "goes against the will of the Yemeni people."

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