x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Pro and anti-Saleh protesters clash on streets in Sana'a

Anti-government demonstrators demanding the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh were confronted by those shouting pro-Saleh slogans.

SANA'A // Thousands of anti-government protesters clashed with government supporters and police in plainclothes yielding clubs yesterday in Tahrir Square in Yemen's capital of Sana'a.

The anti-government demonstrators, demanding the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh were confronted by those shouting pro-Saleh slogans.

About 300 of the protesters had assembled at Sana'a University yesterday morning. As the numbers swelled into the thousands, they began marching towards the Egyptian embassy but encountered a pro-government demonstration on the way.

After the protests started in Egypt last month, Mr Saleh promised to step down when his term ends in 2013. He also said he would not pass power on to his son.

On Friday evening thousands of Yemenis had taken to the streets to hail the fall of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, while fireworks and guns were fired in the air in parts of the country.

The Yemeni opposition, in a statement, described the events in Egypt as a "miraculous triumph".

The Yemeni government said that it "respects the will and options of the Egyptian people" and expressed "its confidence in the ability of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in Egypt in running the affairs of the country in these difficult circumstances".

Police in plainclothes and supporters of the ruling General People's Congress on Friday attacked the protesters after some of them had burnt and torn up pictures of Mr Saleh.

Six protesters were arrested, according to human rights groups.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, told Reuters news agency: "The Yemeni security forces have a duty to protect peaceful protesters. In this case, security forces seem to have organised armed men to attack the protesters."

After the news of Mr Mubarak's resignation, Mr Saleh chaired a meeting of the National Defence Council. The government's Saba news agency reported that the focus of the meeting was implementation of economic reforms, including raising government workers' pay, that Mr Saleh had previously announced.