Monday, July 11, 2011

30 protesters injured in clashes with gov't supporters in Yemen

SANAA, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of protesters went to streets across Yemen on Sunday in response to a call by the opposition to press the ouster of Yemeni president's sons and aides, leaving at least 30 protesters injured during clashes with government supporters, witnesses said.

"At least 10 protesters were injured by gunshots and up to 20 others were stabbed by daggers and they were hospitalized as clashes were still going on in Al-Hodayda, the western Red Sea port province," the witnesses said.

The clashes erupted after hundreds of government backers wielding firearms and daggers intercepted a march of thousands of anti-government protesters demanding the ouster of sons and aides of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is being treated in the Saudi capital, the witnesses said.

Police forces were trying to disperse both sides to prevent further casualties, the witnesses added.

Another thousands of protesters marched in the capital Sanaa on Sunday, demanding the departure of Saleh's sons and aides who occupy higher military and security positions.

The protesters held banners reading "Saudis and Americans keep out of Yemeni affairs" as they rejected any dialogue or formation of national unity government with Saleh's ruling party, requiring the immediate formation of a transitional ruling council during post-Saleh era.

A security official told Xinhua that there is no casualty in Sanaa.

The protest marches came in response to the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), which called the protesters to step up marches and demands for ousting what it said as "the remnants of Saleh's regime." The JMP accused the Saleh government members of " kidnapping the power and committing more crimes."

The opposition's step came simultaneously with a fresh initiative announced by acting President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi for launching a conciliation dialogue with the JMP leaders and forming a joint unity government headed by the opposition in order to end the prolonged political standoff.

US envoy in Yemen to push for power transfer


July 11, 2011

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The White House counterterrorism chief briefed Yemen's vice president Monday on Washington's push for a swift transfer of power in the increasingly unstable nation, rattled by five months of anti-government protests and a growing threat from al-Qaida, a government official said.

John Brennan met with Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in a bid to revive a power transfer deal proposed by Yemen's neighbors. Hadi has headed the government since embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for neighboring Saudi Arabia to be treated for wounds he suffered in a June 3 attack on his compound in Sanaa, Yemen's capital.

Brennan's meeting with Hadi follows talks with Saleh in a Saudi Arabia hospital a day earlier. Brennan asked Saleh on Sunday to "expeditiously" agree to the transition deal which would have him transfer power to the vice president and step down, in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

It was the strongest and most public sign yet of U.S. pressure on Saleh to accept the deal, brokered by Gulf Arab countries led by staunch U.S. ally Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, Brennan briefed Hadi on the details of his meeting with Saleh, said the Yemeni government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Saleh, who has held on to power for over three decades, has balked at signing the deal to step down. A Yemeni government statement said he told his American visitor that any transfer of power must be carried out in a democratic framework and under the guidance of the constitution, suggesting a gradual process he wants to oversee. The statement said Saleh views the proposal as a "basis" for a national dialogue, language that suggests the Yemeni leader has not agreed to adopt the document.

Brennan urged Saleh to sign the transfer agreement quickly and that "assistance will flow to Yemen" when the deal is carried out, the White House said in a statement.

"The United States believes that a transition in Yemen should begin immediately so that the Yemeni people can realize their aspirations," the White House said.

Brennan told Saleh that resolving the political crisis in his country is important so that the nation can face its serious challenges, "including the terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which have claimed the lives of hundreds of Yemeni citizens," the statement said.

Brennan is expected to meet with Yemeni opposition groups during his visit.

Hadi briefed Brennan on his previous meeting with the opposition groups regarding the transition plan, which envisions presidential elections two months after the initial handover of power.

A member of the opposition said Monday that a proposed amendment to the transition plan, presented by Hadi, has been rejected because it was seen as an attempt to bypass the proposal. Abdullah Obal said the proposed amendment extended the transition period beyond the originally suggested period of two months.

The proposal has been outright rejected by anti-government protesters who have staged massive demonstrations across the nation since February to force Saleh out of office. They insist that Saleh must step down immediately and unconditionally.

Sunday's meeting took place against the backdrop of a rising threat by al-Qaida-linked militants in the nearly lawless south of the country. The militants have taken advantage of the turmoil of the uprising against Saleh to flex their muscles, capturing and holding territory in areas of the south, including a provincial capital close to the strategic port city of Aden on the Arabian Sea.

Brennan's visit also appeared to reflect Washington's concerns about the growing strength of Islamic militants in Yemen, which is close to the Gulf's vast oil fields and strategic shipping lanes in the Arabian and Red seas. U.S. officials say Washington has increased its security presence and operations in Yemen amid the turmoil.