Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yemeni protesters rally against long-time ruler

Observed by: Mr. Alaa Isam

Yemeni protesters inspired by recent events in Tunisia rallied in the streets of Sanaa on Thursday to call for the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978.

AFP - Thousands of Yemenis demonstrated in the capital on Thursday, calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to depart after being in power since 1978, AFP correspondents reported.

"Enough being in power for (over) 30 years," chanted protesters in demonstrations staged by the Common Forum opposition in four different locations in Sanaa.

They also referred to the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, saying he was "gone in just (over) 20 years."

"No to extending (presidential tenure). No to bequeathing (the presidency)," they chanted, insisting that it was "time for change."

"Common Forum go ahead. It is time for change," proclaimed banners carried in the demonstrations.

A Common Forum activist said that the staging of the demonstration in four separate parts of the capital was aimed at distracting the security forces.

One area chosen for the protest was outside Sanaa University.

Saleh's ruling General People's Congress, meanwhile, organised four simultaneous counter demonstrations attended by thousands of the government's backers.

"No to toppling democracy and the constitution," the president's supporters said in their banners.

On Saturday, hundreds of Sanaa University students held counter protests on campus, with some calling for Saleh to step down and others for him to remain in office.

Saleh, who has been president for decades, was re-elected in September 2006 for a seven-year mandate.

A draft amendment of the constitution, under discussion in parliament despite opposition protests, could allow him -- if passed -- to remain in office for life.


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