Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis flooded the streets of the capital and elsewhere on Friday in the ongoing campaign to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh, witnesses and the opposition reported.
In the southwestern province of Taez, where the outpouring was significant, three children were wounded when a landmine exploded.
Protesters in Sanaa braved rainfall and were protected by troops loyal to dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar as they gathered after weekly Muslim prayers at University Square — which they have dubbed Change Square.
“The mask of the regime has fallen… for 33 years the country has been a hostage of a family band,” said prayer leader Fuad al-Himyari, referring to Saleh, his family and allies in the military and police.
He called on the “silent fringes (of the population) to join the revolution,” telling regime supporters that “the end of injustice is inevitable and near.”
In Sabbine Avenue, near the presidential palace on the other side of the city, tens of thousands of loyalists also demonstrated after prayers, carrying portraits of the president and chanting “the people want Ali Abdullah Saleh.”
Elsewhere, in Taez, Hodeidah, Ibb, Al-Bayda, Aden and Saada provinces, there was also a massive turnout of anti-regime demonstrators.
In a northern suburb of Taez city, three children were hurt when a landmine exploded, an opposition source reported, saying the army had mined the area to prevent residents from reaching the city and demonstrating.
On Thursday, a delegation from Yemen’s ruling party headed to Riyadh to seek permission from a convalescing Saleh for his deputy to negotiate a power-transfer plan with the opposition, a party official said.
“The delegation is heading to Riyadh to meet the president and ask him to authorise his deputy to start the dialogue” with the opposition, which is demanding Saleh’s ouster, the official told AFP.
“It has been agreed that Saleh would issue a decree vesting his deputy with constitutional powers to hold talks with the parties that have signed the Gulf initiative and agree on a timetable and mechanism to implement it,” GPC’s Assistant Secretary General Sultan Barakani told AFP.
He said implementation of the plan proposed by the GCC “would lead to holding early presidential elections that would guarantee a peaceful and democratic transition of power.”
The plan, drawn up by the six Gulf states in coordination with the European Union and the United States, calls for the immediate formation of a government of national unity with Saleh stepping down a month later in return for a promise of immunity, but the president has repeatedly refused to sign it.