Friday, March 4, 2011

Millions Pray in Yemen Streets, Want Ouster of Saleh

Sana'a- Mar 4, 2011- Millions of people took to the streets in Yemeni cities on Friday to pray and demonstrate full support to the hundreds of thousands who have been conducting sit-ins for weeks, mainly in the capital Sana'a, the business capital Aden and Taiz, demanding the ouster of the regime.

In Sana'a and Taiz, more than 2.5 million people prayed in the square of change at Sana'a University and the square of freedom in Oseifra district, Taiz.

The preachers who delivered Friday's sermons saluted the youths and people demanding the departure of President Saleh, saying the time has come for change in Yemen.

"Seeking change has united the Yemeni people across their country in Sana'a, Aden, Taiz, Baidha'a, Saada, Ibb, Hodeida, Hadramout and others, and their determination will inevitably succeed ousting the corrupt and oppressive regime," the preacher at Sana'a University said.

Before the sermons, the people were chanting: 'the people want to oust the regime', and ' out out Ali', the slogans chanted during the protests and sit-ins inspired by the revolts that removed the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes in January and February this year.

Hundreds of thousands also gathered in other cities, praying in the streets and chanting: the people want to oust the regime.

In the meantime, the movements responsible for organizing and supervising the protests and later the sit-ins confusing President Saleh, who has been making concessions, are now seeking a united leadership and rearranging to make their effort a success.

Ahmed Saif Hashid, a former MP and an activist, said today during a meeting with some youths participating in the Sana'a sit-in that spontaneous revolutions can be thwarted and their organizers harassed. "We should rearrange our effort and seek a good management for the revolution to harvest freedom and other political, economic and social rights," he addressed the attendants.

Yesterday representatives from the several movements organizing met and decided to pick one of every movement to be within the leadership as the situation here indicates President Saleh is to stand down, added Hashid, a reference for the protesters.

"We are now contacting the organizers of the protests in other cities to rearrange our effort to make it a success," he said, as he added that they have identified two goals for the Yemenis' revolution: to oust the regime and to create a civil state.

Saleh has recently made concessions, which he said were only for the sake of the country, including he will not run again for president and will not bring his son, Ahmed, to power when his term expires in 2013. He also called for resuming dialogue with the opposition that initially accepted the call, but later rejected all efforts by Saleh, saying the president is just wasting time for his ambitions.

More recently, Saleh met with Yemeni clerics and told them to convey a new initiative for the Joint Meeting Parties, the opposition coalition, whose terms included a call for resuming dialogue and proposed reforms.

But the initiative was rejected by the opposition, which said what Saleh has been doing is not going to work because the people are now seeking his departure whatever he offers.

As the protests started to escalate, external pressure has started to mount on the regime, with countries such as the U.S. urging Saleh to step down and seek a quick orderly transition of power.

On the other hand, the General People's Congress, the ruling party, is competing with the anti-government demos and sit-ins in the Yemeni cities, mobilizing its fans to chant for Saleh.

In Sana'a and Taiz, the people can't reach Tahrir Squares because the pro-government sit-inners have been occupying them since the downfall of the Egyptian regime.

Source: Yemen Post

Yemen rallies grow, Saleh rejects transition plan

By Mohammed Ghobari

SANA'A, Mar 4, 2011- President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Friday rejected an opposition plan for him to transfer power by the end of 2011, as crowds demonstrating against his rule swelled into hundreds of thousands.

Saleh, who has ruled the poverty-stricken Arab country for 32 years, is sticking to his earlier offer to step down when his term ends in 2013.

However, he agreed to a reform plan proposed by religious leaders earlier this week which would revamp elections, parliament and the judicial system.

"The president rejected the proposal and is holding on to his previous offer," the opposition's rotating president Mohammed al-Mutawakil said on Friday.

Yemen, a neighbor of Saudi Arabia, was teetering on the brink of failed statehood even before the protests, with Saleh struggling to cement a truce with Shi'ite rebels in the north and quell a budding secessionist rebellion in the south.

"Oh God, god please get rid of Ali Abdullah," protesters chanted in the capital Sana'a, where protests stretched back for more than 2 km in the streets around Sana'a University.

Political analysts say the growing protests, inspired by unrest that has toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia, may be reaching a point where it will be difficult even for Saleh, a clever political survivor, to cling to power.

Saleh is also an important U.S. ally against al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing.

Earlier on Friday, Shi'ite rebels accused the Yemeni army of firing rockets on a protest in Harf Sufyan in the north, where thousands had gathered. Two people were killed and 13 injured.

"During a peaceful protest this Friday morning ... demanding the fall of the regime, an end to corruption and political change, a military post fired rockets at a group of protesters and hit dozens of people," a statement from the rebels said.

The government said armed men had fired on a military post in Harf Sufyan, wounding four security men, but denied having fired on the protest.

The rebels complain of discrimination by the government and announced their support for the protests in early February. They have been in an uneasy truce with the government since February 2010 to end a war that has raged on and off since 2004.


A plan proposed by clerics this week calls for changing the constitution and rewriting election laws to ensure fair representation in parliament, opening up voter registration and making politics more democratic, and guaranteeing the right to peaceful protest.

The opposition had proposed a mostly identical plan but with the added requirement that Saleh hand over power this year, but he rejected that condition outright on Friday.

Clerics sympathetic to the opposition, whose ranks have grown with the defection of Saleh allies, joined protesters in Sanaa for Friday prayers and called on Yemenis to take to the streets to demand Saleh step down.

Tens of thousands of protesters, and possibly more than 100,000, rallied in Sanaa in what was among the largest demonstration yet, a Reuters journalist said. Similar numbers demonstrated in Taiz, south of Sanaa, with tens of thousands in Ibb and Aden.

Opposition leaders put the combined number of protesters at more than 500,000 in Sanaa and Taiz, but that could not be independently verified.

"This is a corrupt and oppressive regime, and God is calling on us to get rid of it," one preacher shouted to the crowds in Sanaa, telling them to pray that they, and Libyan rebels fighting against Muammar Gaddafi, succeed in toppling their governments.

Protesters say they are frustrated with widespread corruption and soaring unemployment in a country where 40 percent of its 23 million people live on $2 a day or less and a third face chronic hunger.

Saleh loyalists, in a sign that he still has significant support, organised a counter-protest on Friday attended by about 100,000 people, a Reuters reporter said.

"No to sedition. No to chaos. Yes to stability," they chanted. Police using loudspeakers called on Yemenis joining anti-government protesters to return home, and the demonstrators shouted to the police to join them.

Source: Reuters

Yemen, a tentative road map for Saleh's departure

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has 'favorably received' a plan to lay out an exit strategy by year's end. But protesters have yet to come up with a plan for what's next.

By Erik Stier

Sana'a- Mar 4, 2011-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has “favorably received” a road map that would delineate his departure and ensure a smooth transition of power, according to a government official.

The exact details of the plan, put forward by opposition leaders to defuse mounting tension in the streets, may be subject to change. But word that Mr. Saleh may agree on an exit strategy by the end of this year has done little to appease demonstrators, who insist that he step down immediately but have yet to formulate a cohesive plan should he do so.

“This is the people’s revolution, not the parties’,” says Sanaa University law student Tareq Abdul Aziz. “This is the political path, and we’ve been down it before. We don’t trust Saleh to keep his word and we will continue to protest until he is gone.”

Since the fall of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak injected new momentum into Yemen protests, opposition demonstrations in the capital, Sanaa, have grown from gatherings of hundreds of university students to crowds in the thousands that now include tribesmen, Islamists, opposition lawmakers, and city residents.

But as the number of demonstrators has increased, so too has the diversity of perspectives on what should happen if Saleh steps down – and the difficulty of working together to formulate a cohesive plan with broad backing.

“We’re not interested in discussion,” says Yahya al-Saha, a tribe member from Hamdan who along with dozens of fellow tribesmen has been camping in front of the university for days. “What we want now is democracy – real democracy and not the kind that is enforced by tanks and guns.”

Like Mr. Saha, the vast majority of opposition demonstrators are demanding transparent democracy. But there are also groups advocating everything from socialism to the restoration of the caliphate.

Earlier this week, the widely popular Sheikh Abdel Majid al-Zindani – designated a terrorist by the US – split with Saleh and called for the establishment of an Islamic state in a speech before tens of thousands of demonstrators.

'We need a plan'

In the event of a power vacuum, a transition period not exceeding 60 days is to be led by the vice president before presidential elections take place, according to the Yemeni constitution.

“People haven’t thought about what happens after the revolution," says parliament member Abdul Kareem al-Islamy, who along with 10 other representatives recently resigned from Saleh's General Peoples Congress party to join the opposition. "We’re thinking about it now. We need a plan.”

Indeed, the road from today’s demonstrations to a fully functioning democracy is unclear. Yemen is home to one of the region’s most active extremist groups, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; a rebellion in the north led by Shiite Houthis; and an active separatist movement in the south.

“If there’s an opportunity for the south to secede, they may take it. The same for the Houthis. We don’t want a war. But not everyone in south wants secession, and if they can be involved in developing a new system they may not want to separate,” says Mr. Islamy.

Government loyalists cite the president’s ability to maintain order within the country as one of their primary reasons for support. Lacking a coherent plan, they say, the opposition threatens to drag the country into chaos, violence, and even civil war.

Source: the Christian Science Monitor

Yemen Embassy: Armed men attack ambassador on road in southern Egypt but he escapes unharmed

CAIRO- Mar 4, 2011-Yemen's Embassy in Cairo says its ambassador was attacked by armed men while travelling to a southern Egyptian city but escaped unharmed.

Friday's statement from the embassy says Ambassador Abdel-Wali al-Shimiri was headed to Assiut to meet Yemeni students there on Tuesday.

He was travelling in a two-car convoy that included several guards. As the cars stopped at a checkpoint outside Assiut, armed men pulled up in three cars and tried to snatch al-Shimiri out of his car.

The statement says the ambassador's guards scuffled with the attackers who managed to seize the guards' personal weapons, laptops, briefcases and other private belongings from inside the two cars before they fled.

One of the bullets fired by the gunmen hit the ambassador's car.

Source: The Associated Press

Up 60 Somalis arrive in Yemen coasts

HADRAMOUT- March 4, 2011- An unknown boat smuggling has transported 63 Somalis, including 19 women and 7 children, to the coast of Broome district in Hadramout province, the Interior Ministry said on Friday.
In a press release, the Ministry said that its security services in Broome had sent the Somalis to a refugees' camp in collaboration with the High Commissioner for Refugees in the province.
Meanwhile, the security forces in Taiz province sent 16 Somalis, including 4 women, to the main camp of refugees in Kharaz district after they had reached the coast on Thursday.
In addition, four Somalis, aged between 18-25 years, were detained in Amran province and were referred to the legal agencies to take procedures for entry illegally into Yemen.
Source: (Saba)

2 dead as N. Yemen rebels say army used rockets on protest

SANAA- Mar 4, 2011- Shiite Muslim rebels in northern Yemen said the military fired rockets at their anti-government protests on Friday and killed two, as protests spread and intensify across the impoverished Arab Nation.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a U.S. ally against a resurgent wing of al-Qaida, is struggling to quell daily protests that have swept across the country demanding he step down after 32 years ruling Yemen.

"During a peaceful protest this Friday morning . . . demanding the fall of the regime, an end to corruption and political change, a military site fired rockets at a group of protesters and hit dozens of people," a statement from the rebels said.

A spokesman for the rebels told Reuters that thousands had taken to the streets of Harf Sufyan protests when they were hit by rockets from an army base located inside the northern city.

He said at least two were dead and seven wounded.

Yemen's cash-strapped government agreed a truce with the rebels in February 2009 to halt a war that had raged on and off since 2004. The uneasy ceasefire had largely held, though sporadic violence persists.

The rebels, known as Houthis after their leader Abdel Malek al-Houthi, complain of discrimination by the government and announced their support for anti-government protests in early February.

Source: Reuters