Pro-, Anti-Govt Rallies Clash in Yemen's Tahrir Square

World | February 12, 2011, Saturday // 18:11|  views

Yemeni tribesmen shout slogans during a pro-president Ali Abdullah Saleh demonstration in Sana'a, Yemen, 12 February 2011. EPA/BGNES

Supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh assaulted Saturday an anti-government demonstration in downtown Sana'a celebrating the successful revolution in Egypt where President Hosni Mubarak resigned.

Around 2,000 anti-regime protesters celebrating the resignation of Egyptian President Hosny Mubarak tried to reach Tahrir Square in central Sanaa but Saleh supporters pushed them back and chased them out, DPA reported.

The anit-government protesters demanded the immediate resignation of Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since 1978, who, faced with the prospects of more massive civil unrest – of the kind that brought down his counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt – last week promised to step down when his term ends in 2013. He has also promised not to pass power to his son.

"You are the third, Oh Ali," read the banners of the Yemeni protesters referring to the fates of Tunisia's Ben Ali and Egypt's Mubarak. The protesters chanted "After Mubarak, it's Ali's turn" and "A Yemeni revolution after the Egyptian revolution."

Police tried to prevent the confrontation, but were outnumbered by pro-Saleh protesters who emerged from Tahrir Square where around 5 000 pro-regime protesters were rallying.

Saleh's ruling General People's Congress (GPC) party has erected giant tents in Tahrir Square to prevent the opposition from using the site for sit-ins.

Elsewhere in Yemen, thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate the resignation of Mubarak. Yemen's government said on Saturday it respected 'the choices of the Egyptian people

Saturday's events in Sanaa were preceded by turmoil Friday night when Yemeni authorities detained at least 10 people on Friday night after anti-government protesters in Sanaa, the capital, celebrated Mubarak's downfall, US-based Human Rights Watch said.

The group said the celebrations turned to clashes when hundreds of men armed with knives, sticks, and assault rifles attacked the protesters as security forces stood by.

Also on Friday, the separatist Southern Movement said police broke up hundreds of Yemenis celebrating in the streets of Aden, where police had been heavily deployed since morning to clamp down on planned separatist protests earlier in the day.

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Tags: Yemen, Egypt, sanaa, Hosni Mubarak, Ali Abdullah Saleh, aden, Tunisia, Arab world


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