Friday, May 6, 2011

Rallies underway as Yemen's Saleh vows to defy protests

May 6, 2011

Sana'a - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Friday he would defy the 'illegal' protests stirring his country, as tens of thousands of people gathered for anti-government rallies after Friday prayers.

'These crowds are a clear message that rejects the revenge and hate some outlaws and saboteurs are trying to spread between the Yemeni people,' Saleh told a group of supporters in Sabbine Square in Sana'a.

In another square nearby in the capital, tens of thousands of opposition activists gathered demanding the ouster of Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years.

'We want real freedom and equality and to institute a democracy where all the democratic principles are implemented in full,' Osama, a 30-year-old private sector employee told the German Press Agency dpa.

Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets in other provinces, including Taiz, which has seen violent crackdowns by security forces over the past two months.

Protesters Friday were chanting 'The people want to try the murderer' and 'Leave Saleh, Leave!'

The demonstrations come after Saleh backtracked on statements suggesting he was ready to step down, transfer his powers to his vice president and form a government of national unity.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which has been trying to mediate a diplomatic solution to the crisis, said it would continue to work on getting both the opposition and Saleh to sign the deal in a bid to preserve stability and security in Yemen, the Bahrain news agency reported.

Under the proposed deal, the president would also retain the right to remain as head of the ruling party.

However, activists have already said they disapprove of the deal, which would guarantee Saleh immunity from prosecution.

More than 100 protesters have died since the uprising began earlier this year.

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