Sunday, September 18, 2011

26 dead in Yemen riots (updated)

Sep 19, 2011 Moscow Time

26 people are dead and more than 200 others wounded after government forces in the Yemeni capital Sana’s fired live rounds at demonstrators demanding an end to the over 30-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. More than 100,000 people are taking part in the protests.

Saleh, now in Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for injuries suffered in an assassination attempt, says he will only hand over power to a constitutionally elected successor.

His country has been ablaze since January. The fatalities in the revolt are estimated at over 200.

At least 10 killed in anti-Saleh march in Yemen

SANAA, Sept 18, 2011

(Reuters) - At least 10 protesters were killed in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Sunday, a Reuters witness said, when gunfire erupted at one of the biggest demonstrations against President Ali Abdullah Saleh in recent months.

Scores were wounded when police opened fire on the crowds and sprayed them with tear gas as hundreds of thousands spilled out of Change Square, where many youths have camped out demanding an end to Saleh's 33-year rule.

Dozens of men were slumped on the ground, overcome by tear gas. Men on motorbikes and ambulances whisked them away from the scene.

One Protester Killed and others Wounded in Sana'a

By Fatik Al-Rodaini

Sana'a, September 18, 2011- At least one protester was killed and several others were wounded in Yemen's capital Sana'a, near Sana'a old University.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets on Sunday afternoon in a rally to pressure on President Saleh's regime, demanding the ouster of President Saleh.

Yemen's security forces fired live bullets into the air during a bid to disperse protesters, sources said. No more details were reported.

Yemen transition could be agreed "in 10-15 days"

September 18, 2011

A new government deal is expected in 15 days even though Yemen looks far from ready for presidential elections. With many disagreements over transferring power, could things really happen so fast?

A deal to ease Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power could be ready for signing with opposition parties within 15 days, a senior ruling party official said on Saturday.

Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) and the opposition coalition, the Joint Meetings Parties (JMP), have been wrangling for months over a Gulf-brokered transition plan, even as Yemeni protesters demand the president steps down immediately.

Despite widespread scepticism that any deal is within reach, Sultan al-Barakani, deputy head of the GPC and part of Saleh’s close circle, told Reuters the two sides would soon conclude talks on preparing for a new government and signing the deal.

“All of these steps, I’m optimistic will be completed in the next 10 to 15 days,” he said in an interview. “What we need more time for is finding a new (presidential) election date.”

Barakani said negotiations over how to run the election could delay the poll until January or February. “The conditions in the country for elections are not there yet,” he said. “We’re used to these things taking six months.”

Tensions remain high in Yemen, where eight months of anti-Saleh protests, sporadic armed clashes and economic disruption have pushed the country deeper into misery. The US and neighbouring Saudi Arabia fear the turmoil may give al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing more freedom to operate.

Saleh, who has been convalescing in Riyadh since a June bomb attack on his compound, last week gave Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour the authority to sign the Gulf transition plan on his behalf, in what some analysts saw as a way for him to allow the plan to pass without stooping to sign it himself.

But some diplomats in Sanaa expressed concerns that Saleh, a master of political survival, may later use his remaining presidential powers to reject the deal.

Saleh has three times backed out of signing the Gulf Cooperation Council’s original plan, which stipulated that he would resign 30 days after signing.

The opposition and ruling party recently agreed to modify the plan to allow the transition to occur via an early election.


At least one sticking point remains. The opposition wants Saleh to transfer all his powers to the vice president before the poll to prevent him from using them to sway the vote. The ruling party says Saleh should quit only after the election.

“The president leaving through a political agreement? I reject it today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” Barakani said at his office in Sanaa, surrounded by presidential guards.

Ruling party moderates have been willing to concede the opposition demand, but hardliners like Barakani have resisted.

“We have a political system built on a constitution. We need to respect it,” Barakani said. “The presidency is selected based on an electoral system. Why should we destroy this government just to satisfy a few dozen people?”

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have staged sustained protests demanding Saleh’s unconditional removal. Many say they will stay on the streets until Saleh and all of his relatives and allies are out of power, no matter whether a political deal is reached.

Speculation has swirled over when Saleh might come back from Saudi Arabia — and whether his return might push Yemen back to the edge of civil war between his forces and opposing tribesmen.

Barakani said he expected Saleh back in Yemen by October, as long as doctors approved, arguing that…

Refugees in South Yemen Will not Leave Schools but to Own Homes

Sanaa, September 18, 2011- Refugees in south Yemen refused on Saturday to leave the schools where they sought shelter after battles erupted between the army and Al-Qaida in Abyan province months ago, sources reported.

Tens of thousands of families sought shelters inside schools in the provinces of Aden and Lahj, and lately the government ordered to transfer them to refuges outside the provinces to evacuate the schools for the new school year.

The website quoted school headmasters in Aden, who asked not to be named, as saying that refugees have demanded to return them to their homes in Abyan not to send them to stadium and refugee camps as well as compensating them.

“The refugees said the stadium in Aden to which the government wants to transfer them is not suitable. They are also determined to resist their relocation but to their homes in Abyan,” the website reported.

The headmasters were also quoted as saying that there were orders to suspend teaching until the problem of the refugees is solved.

The government said last month that about 108000 refugees fled Abyan to Aden and Lahj due to the battles between the army and Al-Qaida.

Lately, Ahmed Al-Kuhlani, head of the Refuge Camp Management Unit, appealed for more international support to help the displaced persons, as he pointed to measures to relocate those inside schools out Aden and Lahj.

Earlier, Al-Kuhlani expected the refugees could return to their homes after the army cleared some cities in Abyan of Al-Qaida militants. But he said the time to return depends on clearing the cities of explosives and restoring basic services.

Source: Yemen Post

Clashes Erupt in Yemen, and a Sit-In Is Attacked


September 17, 2011

SANA, Yemen — Explosions rocked Yemen’s capital early Saturday morning as clashes broke out between security forces loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and fighters aligned with opposition tribal leaders.

Simultaneously, security forces attacked the western edge of an antigovernment sit-in at Sana University, a long-running fixture here, around 2 a.m. Eight protesters were wounded by gunfire and shrapnel, said doctors at the field hospital inside the protest area. At least some heavy artillery was used, protesters said. The reason for the attack on the protest was still unclear by Saturday evening.

A clash between government forces and tribesmen loyal to the Ahmar family, Mr. Saleh’s main political rivals, ignited the fighting in the Hasaba neighborhood in northern Sana.

At least eight loud explosions echoed across the city early Saturday morning, while nearly the entire city was left in darkness because electricity had been cut.

An official statement from the office of Sheik Sadiq al-Ahmar, the patriarch of the Ahmar family, accused security forces of shelling the Ahmar compound.

A Yemeni official said that fighting started after the Ahmars brought more tribal fighters into Sana, set up new checkpoints along the road and attacked a police station with rocket-propelled grenades.

“If they are going to have armed tribesmen setting up checkpoints everywhere, violence is going to be the result,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the news media about the subject. The official said that no members of the security forces were killed in Saturday’s violence, and Mr. Ahmar’s office did not announce any deaths among the tribal fighters.

The conflict between the government and the Ahmars escalated into an all-out war for two weeks in May, after Mr. Saleh reneged on a promise to transfer power.