Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yemen had its Day of Rage as well

Ali Abdallah Saleh adresses the parliament

Yemen also had its 'Day of Rage'. On Thursday  at least some 20.000 people marched througfh the capital Sanaa. Several thousand more aprtcipated in marches in several other cities as well. Slogans were chanted in which president Ali Abdallah Saleg as called to step down. Opposition members claimed that altogether some 100.000 people particpated, but that was grossly exaggerated.
 The opposition parties have been preparing for a real mass demonstration. Last Thursday around 15, 000 Yemeni protesters took to streets in Sanaa to call for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. But the goverbment took its precautions, The Yemeni Interior Ministry said in a statement it had reinforced security forces around the capital Sanaa and blocked byways as precaution measures to prevent smuggling weapons into major cities. Many security checkpoints were set in the main highways leading to the capital.

Sanaa on Thursday morning

Since the beginning of this year, tensions escalated between the opposition and ruling party after parliamentary members of the latter unilaterally approved constitutional amendments on 1 January, which could make Yemen's leader Saleh the country's president for life. The opposition coalition then boycotted parliamentary sessions and vowed not to take part in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Saleh on Wednesday tried to undercut the protest by giving a speech in which he said  that he will not extend his presidency beyond his current term which expires in 2013. Also he said that he was not to transfer his power to his son, as was feared. "I present these concessions in the interests of the country. The interests of the country come before our personal interests," Saleh told his parliament, Shoura Council and members of the military, according to Reuters.
 The Islah (Reform) Party, the biggest opposition party, welcomed Saleh's annuncement, but said Thursday's Today's rally in Sanaa would go ahead anyway. Mohamed Al Kubati, the spokesman of the opposition coalition, Joint Meeting Parties, JMPs, said Today's  demonstrations will be the last of the first stage of the activities which were started in the middle of last January, to refuse unilateral steps taken by the ruling party for holding elections and constitutional amendments.'

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