Last updated: 17 July, 2011

Yemenis mark Saleh anniversary with Taez demo

Tens of thousands of Yemenis marched through the country’s second city Taez on Sunday in what they called a “day of rage” against President Ali Abdallah Saleh on the anniversary of his rise to power in 1978.

Demonstrators assembled on Taez’s main arterial road, chanting anti-Saleh slogans and waving black flags to mourn the embattled president’s 33-year rule, the rally’s organisers said.

Protesters called for the resignation of Saleh, who has been in Saudi Arabia for the past six weeks receiving treatment for wounds sustained in a June 3 bomb blast at his presidential compound in Sanaa.

Three soldiers and seven civilians were killed in Taez on Friday as supporters of the regime clashed with its opponents, leaving at least 37 other Yemenis injured.

Demonstrations have been more violent in Taez than in the capital, 270 kilometres (170 miles) to the northeast.

Saleh appeared on television on July 7 for the first time since the attack, heavily bandaged, and called for dialogue in Yemen without specifying when he would return.

Deputy Information Minister Abdo al-Janadi said on Saturday that Saleh would return to Yemen “soon,” again without specifying a time scale.

Since Saleh left for Saudi Arabia, his duties have been assumed by Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, but he has not been designated the de facto head of state.

Opposition activists, meanwhile, have called for the creation of an interim “presidential council” including a former premier to run Yemen.

Saleh has faced protests calling for him to stand down since January. Bloody crackdowns on demonstrators by his security forces have drawn international condemnation, including from key ally Washington.