Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters called on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit, in a mass protest after Friday prayers a day after the embattled leader said he will not step down.
The demonstrators marched along a main avenue in the capital, chanting “victory for our Yemen and our Syria” in a statement of support for Syrian pro-democracy activists calling for the ouster of President Bashar Al-Assad.
“Oh God, give victory to Syria and Yemen, Oh God… let Saleh and Bashar fall,” they chanted as they emerged in their tens of thousands from Friday prayers.
In Syria pro-democracy activists had called for protests on Friday under the slogan “victory for Syria, victory for Yemen.”
Also in Sanaa, thousands of pro-Saleh activists voiced their support for the president.
The rival protests came just a day after Saleh told Time and The Washington Post that he will not step down if his rivals are allowed to compete in future elections.
He was referring specifically to dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar who defected earlier this year in support of anti-government protesters, and powerful tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar.
“If we transfer power and they are there, this will mean that we have given in to a coup,” Saleh said in his first interview since returning home a week ago from Saudi Arabia to recover from wounds suffered in a June attack on his palace.
Anti-government protesters in Yemen and Syria have for months been calling for their respective leaders to resign. Both governments have responded with deadly crackdowns.