Protesters calling for an end to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime gathered massively in the capital Sanaa on Friday, protected by dissident army forces, an AFP correspondent reported.
“The Yemeni people have decided they will not stop until they are free,” chanted the protesters gathered in Sittin Road. “Free people go on with this revolt, it is for good.”
“We will not be broken. We die or win,” chanted the protesters who were protected by troops loyal to General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who pledged support for the protesters in March.
The soldiers paraded in Sittin Road before the weekly Muslim prayers began declaring themselves as Yemen’s “victory brigades,” said an AFP reporter there.
Witnesses said similar protests took place further south in Ibb and Yemen’s second largest city Taez, where security forces opened fire on demonstrators Thursday killing one and wounding 13 others, according to medics.
Meanwhile, witnesses said pro-Saleh demonstrators gathered in Sanaa’s Sabiine Square calling for the return of the veteran leader, recovering in Saudi Arabia from bomb blast wounds suffered in a June attack on his palace.
On Thursday, the deputy leader of the ruling General People’s Congress, Sultan al-Barakani met with a gathering of pro-regime women demonstrators during which he called for dialogue with Yemen’s rebelling youth, at the forefront of anti-regime protests since January.
“I call on our young sons to some to us so we can begin dialogue with them and become partners with them in the country’s institutions,” said Barakani.
“We don’t give them promises and then and break them like the opposition Common Forum (alliance), which is stealing their revolution by giving them only five percent (membership) of the illegitimate National Council,” an umbrella of anti-Saleh forces, said Barakani.
Around 800 representatives of diverse opposition groups elected the 143-member “National Council for the Forces of the Peaceful Revolution” on August 17.
The council groups the parliamentary parties of the Common Forum, which includes the influential Islamist party Al-Islah (reform), with the young protesters.
The GPC has repeatedly accused the Common Forum parliamentary opposition bloc of plotting to “take power by force” by mobilising young protesters.
It held the opposition “responsible for the consequences” of any violence and called for a “serious and responsible dialogue.”