20 000 rally in Yemen 'Day of Rage'

2011-02-03 10:30

Sanaa - More than 20 000 Yemenis filled the streets of Sanaa on Thursday for a "Day of Rage" rally, demanding a change in government and saying President Ali Abdullah Saleh's offer to step down in 2013 was not enough.

Further anti-government protests were expected across Yemen, which Saleh has ruled for over three decades, and supporters of the president were driving around the capital urging Yemenis over loudspeakers to join pro-government counter-demonstrations.

But by early morning, anti-government protesters had already gathered the largest crowd since a wave of protests hit the Arabian Peninsula state two weeks ago, inspired by protests that toppled Tunisia's ruler and threaten Egypt's president.

"The people want regime change," protesters shouted as they gathered outside Sanaa University. "No to corruption, no to dictatorship."

Saleh, eyeing the unrest spreading in the Arab world, indicated on Wednesday he would leave office when his term ends in 2013, and promised his son would not take over the reins of government, among a host of other political concessions.

Fresh pressure

It was his boldest gambit yet to stave off turmoil in Yemen, a key ally of the United States against al-Qaeda, as he sought to avert a showdown with the opposition that might risk sparking an Egypt-style uprising in the deeply impoverished state.

Wael Mansour, an organiser of the Thursday rally, said Yemenis were not satisfied with Saleh's concessions.

"Today will bring more, fresh pressure on President Saleh, who will have to present further concessions to the opposition," he said, without specifying what those concessions might be.

The risks are high for Yemen, on the brink of becoming a failed state, as it tries to fight a resurgent al-Qaeda wing, quell southern separatism, and cement peace with Shi'ite rebels in the north, all in the face of crushing poverty. One third of Yemenis face chronic hunger.

US support

The United States relies heavily on Saleh to help combat al-Qaeda's regional Yemen-based arm which also targets neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter. Instability in Yemen would present serious political and security risks for Gulf states.

US President Barack Obama telephoned Saleh to express support for his initiative, the state news agency Saba said.

"You have handled the situation well, and I look forward to working with you in a good partnership between the two countries," it quoted Obama as saying.

  • Shahied - 2011-02-03 10:51

    Yeah...another US puppet about to bite the dust !!

  • Shahied - 2011-02-03 10:52

    Yeah...another US puppet about to bite the dust !!

  • Neo - 2011-02-03 10:59

    Sounds good ... "No to corruption, no to dictatorship." Can't believe these people are only waking up now when one third of Yemenis face chronic hunger.

  • Neo - 2011-02-03 11:02

    Sounds good ... 'No to corruption, no to dictatorship'.

  • jiamalunga - 2011-02-03 11:37

    The ANC should pay close attention...

  • pirate.1970 - 2011-02-03 13:17

    Strange world. The USA and Europe are always criticized and whom...those who will not hesitate to receive, no wait, be so arrogant as to demand assistance from those very countries. Our neighbour in Zim is as good an example as you may find. The same applies to these countries who are in need of help. You help me and I help you. Strange isn't it, the uprise and unrest is caused by people with the same objectives...Tunisia, Somalia, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt and now all of a sudden Yemen!! Will there be no corruption? Will there be no dictator? You bet there will be! Many are just hoping to share in the spoils. The rest...puppets who are emotionally brain-washed, driven by fear and who will merely have to fall in or be persecuted. I don't see any critique about a terrorist organization that openly wars against soft targets and operating from this country and which the Govt of Yemen is trying to fight against...perhaps one of the main reasons why we see this sudden show of power. Talk about peace and prosperity...gumpfff! What a joke? I am not surprised by all of this. The Script has been written, and the play is on. The Grande Finale will be sweeter than sweet. (Just my own belief, plz! You may believe what you want.)

  • Parko - 2011-02-03 13:29

    When will our "Day or Rage" come ........ Watch out ANC elitists........

  • HeySeus - 2011-02-03 18:59

    American Hypocracy and its allies Exposed to All the fowled mouth Losers that ever thought they had good reason in killing millions of innocent ppl. Burn Baby Burn. Hopefully the American ppl will take to the streets in the near future. World needs this badly. Enought with all the lies and corruption. Enough with the Corrupt Leaders supporting the Corrupt. Hang them all. Christian Muslim Jew, Hindu Atheist and Whatever Else...Unite against this evil effort to divide us and make us dependant on this messed up systems. They keep highlighting our differences instead of our similarities. We all want the same thing. There is only once source of terrorism and the world can clearly see their orchestrated efforts over the past 100 years and I am not talking about America. Unite before its too late.

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