From: Biniam Tekle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Mon Feb 21 2011 - 21:43:47 EST
Yemeni president rejects call for resignation
By Iona Craig, Special for USA TODAY
Updated 2m ago
SANA, Yemen — Yemen's longtime leader rejected a demand Monday that he
resign and described demonstrations against his regime as unacceptable acts
of provocation as thousands of Yemenis protested in four cities.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered to have a dialogue with protesters who
want him to step down but members of the opposition said, "No."
"We want free elections, a free press and to replace the constitution," said
Adil Al-Aswar, a member of a committee set up to coordinate the protest
movement. "We are not afraid. The chief of police came and spoke to us and
said we would be safe and protected here."
Al-Aswar said thousands of protesters outside Sana are marshalling supplies
such as food, water and medical care to prepare for a long standoff. The
aim, he said, is the fall of the regime.
Protesters were expecting tribesmen from Marib, Al-Jawf and Sa'adah to join
them, Al-Aswar said. Several hundred tribesmen from Arhab arrived at Sana
University Monday to support protesters.
But Nasser Shaker, a member of Saleh's Hashid tribe, blamed the leading
member of the Islamic party, Hamid Al-Ahmar, for stirring up protests to
"Al-Ahmar wants to kill the people and he is paying these people (pointing
down the street to the anti-government protesters) to oppose the president
so he can gain power," he said. "All Al-Ahmar wants is power."
Shaker said chaos will follow if Saleh is pushed out.
"He has made reforms and wants dialogue with the opposition but now they are
the ones refusing to negotiate," he said.
At least 11 people have been killed since anti-government protests erupted
earlier this month, including a youth shot dead Monday, medical officials
said. Saleh said he has ordered troops not to fire at anti-government
protesters, except in self-defense.
In the city of Taiz, tens of thousands of protesters rallied in the central
square. "We will not leave this place until the downfall of the regime,"
activist Ahmed Ghilan said.
Thousands also rallied in the port city of Aden. Police fired in the air to
disperse demonstrators in public squares.
A large rally was reported in Saada, near the Saudi border. The area has
seen fighting between government forces and Shiite rebels who oppose
Saleh said Monday that government opponents are a small minority and that
those who want to see him leave should compete in elections. The next
scheduled vote is in 2013.
"It's an infection that came from Tunis to Egypt and other countries," he
said. "It's like influenza. The influenza if you sit with somebody it
"Our people are smart people, they are cultured people, they know how to
differentiate between bad and good," he said. "These are copiers."
In Bahrain, an opposition figure accused by the rulers of plotting against
the state was to return from London, aide Abbas Omran said Monday. Hassan
Meshaima, head of a group known as Haq, is scheduled to arrive as the
Bahrain monarchy is trying to hold talks to ease a week-long series of
Meshaima is considered by Bahrain as a potential enemy of the state. He and
another London-based opposition leader are being tried in absentia among a
total of 25 Shiite activists accused of plotting to overthrow Bahrain's
Hundreds of protesters spent the night in Pearl Square — which has become
Bahrain's version of Cairo's uprising hub Tahrir Square — and thousands of
government opponents gathered at the site during the day. People lined up
for hot tea and tents were being set up.
The uprising forced Formula One organizers to call off next month's Bahrain
Grand Prix, a top international sporting event.
In Algeria, 500 students rallied the capital of Algiers near the ministry of
higher education in defiance of a ban on public gatherings.
The students want the government to scrap a new law that dilutes the value
of their diplomas by giving equal status to less-qualified degree holders in
the job market.
They said they were beaten bloody with police sticks.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has promised to lift a 19-year-long state of
emergency, including the ban on public gatherings.
*Contributing: The Associated Press *
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