Encouraged by events in Egypt, anti-government protesters in Yemen have taken to the streets demanding the president's ouster. Police and government-backed gangs have responded with force as tensions run high.
Anti-goverment protesters in Yemen want to get rid of the old regime
Thousands of pro-government supporters have again clashed with pro-reform demonstrators in the capital Sanaa on the fourth day of protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his regime. Several people have been wounded and dozens of others arrested. Witnesses said security forces and government-backed gangs using broken bottles, rocks and daggers, chased down the protesters who are demanding political reforms and Saleh's resignation.
In scenes reminiscent of the events in Egypt, protesters marching on the capital chanted "after Mubarak, Ali," in reference to the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Saleh, who has been in power for over 30 years and is a key US ally against al-Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, has attempted to appease the protesters by offering a series of concessions, including a pledge to step down in 2013 and offering a national dialogue with the opposition. Those talks have been on hold since last October after the government ignored some of the opposition alliance's demands which include the formation of a unity government and the inclusion in the dialogue of the secessionst Southern movement and the Shiite rebels in the north.
Inspired by the events in Egypt and severe economic hardship, protesters want Saleh to leave now. However analysts believe that Yemen is still some way off an Egypt-style uprising and that a similar upheaval would be met with more force and lead to more bloodshed than in Cairo.
Author: Rob Mudge (Reuters, AFP, AP)
Editor: Michael Knigge