Friday, May 27, 2011

Yemen protests expected after lull in fighting

May 27, 2011

SANAA (AFP) - Protests both for and against embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh were expected after Friday prayers in the capital Sanaa, which an AFP correspondent said was quiet but tense after heavy clashes.

Heavy fighting between security forces and tribesmen loyal to Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, who heads the powerful Hashid tribal federation and in March pledged support for anti-Saleh protesters, stopped on Thursday afternoon, although some sporadic clashes took place afterwards.

Saleh, who has been in power for 33 years, has since January faced demonstrations calling for his departure.

Anti-regime protest organisers have called for demonstrations on Friday, calling it "The Friday Peaceful Revolt." Saleh loyalists, meanwhile, called for a "Friday of Law and Order" counter-protest.

On Sunday, Saleh refused to sign a Gulf Cooperation Council-sponsored deal that would have seen him cede power within 30 days, instead issuing new demands to the opposition, and warning of civil war.

Fighting between security forces and Ahmar supporters, in which dozens of people have been killed, erupted on Monday.

The Yemeni defence ministry's news website said on Thursday that Saleh has ordered the arrest of Ahmar and others involved in the unrest.

Ahmar, meanwhile, has accused Saleh of dragging the country into civil war.

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