July 31, 2011
YEMENI'S tribal leaders have announced the creation of a coalition to bolster six months of popular protests seeking civil rights and the overthrow of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
"Saleh will not rule us as long as I am alive," Sheik Sadiq al-Ahmar, the powerful head of the Hashid tribe, said after being appointed head of the new coalition against the Saudi-backed regime.
The Alliance of Yemeni Tribes was revealed during a ceremony at the headquarters of the First Armoured Division, whose leader, dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmad, joined the protest movement in March.
The coalition pledged "to protect and defend . . . the popular and peaceful revolution" of Yemenis, who have been holding sit-ins and protests throughout the nation since January against the Saleh regime.
"Any aggression or threat against the protest venues . . . will be considered an attack against the tribes," the group said.
Mr Saleh belongs to the Hashid tribe, which backed the regime until it broke ranks to join the protest movement in March.
The veteran Yemeni strongman has been in hospital in Saudi Arabia since early June, reportedly for operations on wounds he suffered in a bomb attack on his presidential palace.
Up to 600 leaders and tribal chiefs attended the ceremony on Saturday, where a 116-member consultative council was formed to challenge the Saleh regime.
Tribal leaders wield much influence in Yemen. In March, Sheik Sadiq announced his support for the protesters and called for the overthrow of Mr Saleh, who has ruled for 33 years.
Source: The Australian