Yemenis protest after Saleh's appearance

2011-07-08 16:44

Cairo - Thousands of Yemenis protested across the country on Friday in two rival demonstrations, following President Ali Abdullah Saleh's first televised address since an attack on his palace.

Anti-government demonstrators gathered to renew their call for the formation of an interim council, which they say would be the only way for acting president Abd-Rabou Mansur to end the stalemate.

Protesters were angered by Saleh's speech, broadcast late on Thursday, in which he called for a dialogue and power sharing within the framework of the constitution and the laws of the country.

Saleh has been in a Saudi Arabian hospital for more than a month, recovering from serious injuries suffered during an attack on his palace early June.

With burns clearly visible on his face and his arms bandaged, Saleh remained defiant and did not mention when he would go back to Yemen, nor refer to an earlier Gulf-brokered deal that would secure a power transition in the country and provide him with immunity against prosecution.

Since February, millions of Yemenis have been demanding the ouster of Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years. More than 350 people have been killed in the government crackdown on protesters, according to human rights groups.

Thousands of Saleh's supporters gathered near the presidential palace in Sana'a to express solidarity with their leader and celebrate his appearance on television.

Late on Thursday, Saleh's loyalist celebrated with fireworks and gunshots in the air, which left many injured.