x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Yemenis protest against President Saleh for fourth day

Ali Abdullah Saleh cancels trip to US as students, lawyers and opposition politicians march through streets of Sana'a demanding his resignation.

SANA'A // More than 1,000 people protested in Yemen for a fourth straight day toay, demanding political reforms and the resignation of the country's president in demonstrations inspired by the upheaval in Egypt.

University students, rights activists and politicians marched today in the capital, Sana'a. Lawyers in black robes, led by their union chief, joined the demonstrators shouting slogans against the security forces and "the people want the regime to step down," a slogan mirroring those used in Egypt and Tunisia.

"A revolution of free opinion … A revolution of freedom … We who decide," the protesters shouted.

A counter-demonstration by dozens of supporters holding up pictures of President Ali Abdullah Saleh confronted the protesters, shouting slogans against terrorism and supporting the government's call for dialogue.

Police separated the two groups before the protesters marched toward the city centre shouting: "Leave, Saleh."

One lawyer, Hassan al Dola, said the anti-government protest was against "the widespread corruption and against the security apparatus that terrified the people."

An independent politician, Ahmed Hashid, said: "We will continue our protests until the regime falls."

Similar demonstrations took place in Aden and Taaz, with demonstrators shouting, "Saleh, you are good in words but not in rule."

On Sunday, police armed with sticks and daggers beat back thousands of protesters marching through the Sanaa. The protests have mushroomed since crowds gathered on Friday to celebrate the ousting of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, after an 18-day revolt fuelled by similar grievances. Yemen is one of several countries in the Middle East feeling the aftershocks of pro-reform uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

Human Rights Watch said police on Sunday used electroshock Tasers and batons to disperse protesters.

The organisation called upon the Yemeni authorities to abide by the United Nations principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials. It said that the Yemeni government has an obligation to recognize and protect everyone's right to peaceful assembly and free expression.

There were several checkpoints at streets leading to the presidential palace and some were blocked with barbed wire.

Sana'a state television said on Sunday that because of the current situation in the region, Mr Saleh cancelled his visit to the United States scheduled for the end of this month, after he met the US ambassador to Yemen,