SANAA (BNO NEWS) — Tens of thousands of protesters on Friday demonstrated across Yemen to demand the ousting of the country’s long-time ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh, eyewitnesses said.
Protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers in major Yemeni cities amid heavy security to call for the overthrow of the regime, according to Xinhua news agency. They held banners calling for “a rapid, decisive action to settle revolt and unseat President Saleh.”
Meanwhile, government supporters vowed to wait for Saleh’s “soon” return and chanted slogans demanding the president to stay in power until “his constitutional term expires in 2013.” The embattled president is still in Saudi Arabia receiving treatment after he was wounded along with other government officials in the rocket attack which hit the mosque of the presidential palace in Sanaa on June 3.
Saleh said last week that he is “willing now to sign a Saudi-led power-transfer deal initiated in April by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),” and directed his government to begin a power-transfer dialogue with the opposition. The GCC initiative, which Saleh had backed out from signing three times, included guarantees that Saleh will not be prosecuted after his resignation within 30 days from the acceptance date.
The initiative also called for holding presidential elections within two months from the date of Saleh’s departure as well as the establishment of a new government within 90 days. On Wednesday, Saleh’s ruling party proposed an extended 90-day transitional period for him to resign, which was rejected by the opposition that called Saleh to sign the deal first, Xinhua reported.
Protesters have continually demanded the resignation of government leaders and President Saleh, who has ruled the country for 33 years. Tensions have soared as both the government forces and the pro- protests defected army have recently deployed heavily troops in central cities, including the capital Sanaa.
Friday, September 9th, 2011