Yemeni troops defy orders to withdraw
Sanaa - Yemeni troops defied orders to
withdraw from the streets of the capital by a Saturday deadline, signaling
trouble for a deal meant to ease the president from power and end months of
The powerful Republican Guard force led by
President Ali Abdullah Saleh's son and the Central Security forces led by his
nephew could still be seen throughout the city on Saturday, after the deadline
passed. As a result, anti-Saleh forces from a renegade army battalion as well
as armed tribesmen opposed to the president have also stayed put.
The deal signed last month by Saleh and
several opposition parties is aimed at bringing an end to the authoritarian
ruler's 33 years in power.
Street protesters, however, are refusing to
end rallies because they object to part of the deal granting Saleh immunity
from prosecution over the killings of demonstrators in the uprising, which
began in February.
Thousands of protesters demanding justice for
the hundreds of people killed in the regime's crackdown were to converge on the
capital later Saturday after a four-day march from the southern city of Taiz, a
centre of the opposition.
Participants in what has been dubbed the
March of Life followed a 270km route.
The lengthy march, a first in the 10 months
of demonstrations, aimed to pressure a new national unity government and
parliament to reject the immunity deal for Saleh.
Yemen's parliament convened on Saturday for
the first time since opposition and independent lawmakers suspended their
participation in March to protest the crackdown. Lawmakers were to discuss the
program of the new national unity government, headed by veteran independent
politician Mohammed Basindwa.
On December 7, Basindwa said the government
will focus on providing public services to the people, including electricity,
water, fuel and basic commodities together with restoring security and
Services and security have been in short
supply during the unrest in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world.
However, the presence in the country of
Saleh, his sons, family members and loyalists who still hold key positions
could pose a challenge to the new administration.