Friday, January 6, 2012
SANAA - Yemenis demonstrated across the country on Friday demanding the release of activists detained in almost a year of protests against veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Tens of thousands demonstrating in Sanaa chanted “freedom to the detainees,” a slogan chosen by protest organisers for demonstrations in 18 cities across the impoverished nation.
“O, great Allah, free every detainee,” they chanted at Sitin Street, close to Change Square ��" the focal point of anti-Saleh protests.
Protesters say detainees are mostly held by the political security and national security bodies, which are controlled by people close to Saleh, who has bowed to world pressure and agreed to leave following presidential elections in February.
A Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, signed by Saleh in November after more than 10 months of mass anti-government protests, forced Saleh to hand power to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
The plan also gave Saleh and his closest aides and relatives immunity from prosecution for alleged crimes committed against Yemenis in months of unrest that left hundreds of people dead and thousands more wounded.
It also allowed Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for more than 33 years, to retain the title of honorary president until he formally resigns after the elections.
The United States said Wednesday it would hold Saleh accountable for transitioning power after elections, after he canceled a planned trip to America which said would admit him only for medical treatment.
A senior Yemeni official said on Wednesday that Saleh had now decided to stay in the country until after the presidential elections.