Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, April 2011
Protesters shot dead by security forces in Taiz
By News Wires (text)
France 24, 04/04/2011
At least 17 protesters were killed when security forces opened fire in the Yemeni city of Taiz, south of the capital Sanaa on Monday, a medical source said.
Yemeni security forces shot dead at least 17 protesters on Monday as Gulf states offered their mediation and Washington reportedly pulled the plug on embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
"The death toll has gone up to 17," said Sadeq al-Shujaa, head of a makeshift field hospital at a square in central Taez after security forces opened fire on demonstrators marching on the local governorate headquarters.
Witnesses said the demonstrators stormed the courtyard of the governorate and that plainclothes gunmen and rooftop snipers also took part in the gunfire to push them back.
The bloodshed, a day after another protester was shot dead in Taez, 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the capital, sent the death toll to more than 100 in a crackdown on protests in the impoverished state since late January.
With the rising death toll, Saleh, a longtime US ally in Washington's fight against Al-Qaeda, appears to be losing American support.
The US government is taking part in efforts to negotiate the president's departure and a transitional handover of power, according to a report in the New York Times on Sunday.
US officials have told allies they see Saleh's position as untenable due to the widespread protests, and believe he should leave office, it said. Talks on his departure had been underway for more than a week.
The talks centred on a proposal for Saleh to hand over to a provisional government under his vice-president until new polls. The principle is "not in dispute", an unnamed Yemeni official told the paper.
With the timing still to be worked out, the focus for Washington remains on keeping its Saleh-backed counter-terrorism operation in Yemen on track, the Times reported.
The Common Forum, an opposition coalition, on Saturday offered its "vision for a peaceful and secure transition of power", calling on Saleh to hand power to Vice-President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to head a caretaker regime.
But the president, who has adopted a defiant tone over the past week, on Sunday told the opposition to end protests and remove roadblocks, offering a "peaceful transition of power through constitutional ways".
Youth protesters staging sit-in protests, however, said they would accept nothing short of an end to Saleh's autocratic rule along with the departure of top figures in his regime.
Oil-rich Gulf states also said late on Sunday that they are seeking to mediate between Saleh and the opposition.
"The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council have agreed to begin contacts with the Yemeni government and opposition with ideas to overcome the current situation," it said after a meeting of foreign ministers in Riyadh.
On the ground in Sanaa, soldiers from units whose commanders have sided with protesters intervened on Monday to prevent about 200 police from taking on thousands of demonstrators camped since February at a square in central Sanaa.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh calls for a state of emergency after deadly protests
In the western city of Hudaydah, witnesses said dozens of people were wounded by police gunfire and rocks, while hundreds of others needed treatment for tear-gas inhalation.
Thirteen people were shot and wounded in Hudaydah late on Sunday, witnesses said, as police clashed with thousands of demonstrators marching on the Red Sea city's main local government building.
The demonstrations in Taez and Hudaydah form part of a renewed spurt of protests for Saleh to end his three-decade rule.
The tide appeared to turn against Saleh on March 18 when regime loyalists gunned down 52 demonstrators in Sanaa, sparking widespread condemnation abroad and a string of defections from his camp.
But boosted by two huge pro-regime rallies in the capital and previous US statements on the battle being waged against al-Qaeda in Yemen under its ally Saleh have produced shows of defiance by the president.
Anti-Regime Protests Turn Deadly After Yemeni Police Open Fire
By News Wires (text)
France 24, April 3, 2011
Two men died and hundreds more were injured when Yemeni police fired live rounds and tear gas to disperse an anti-government protest in the city of Taez, witnesses said.
Two Yemenis died and hundreds were hurt on Sunday when police used live rounds, tear gas and batons to try to break up protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who called for an end to weeks of unrest.
The two dead were among around 10 people hit by bullets in the violence in Taiz, south of the capital, where doctors said dozens were wounded, and that they were treating hundreds suffering tear gas inhalation.
"Armoured vehicles and tanks are surrounding us. They have spent three hours firing tear gas and bullets (in the air) in an effort to break up the protest," said activist Bushra al-Maqtari.
Protests inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have brought Saleh's rule to the verge of collapse. But the president, a perennial survivor, called on Sunday for an end to the violence, signalling he has no intention of resigning soon.
"We call on the opposition coalition to end the crisis by ending sit-ins, blocking roads and assassinations, and they should end the state of rebellion in some military units," Saleh told visiting supporters from Taiz province.
"We are ready to discuss transferring power, but in a peaceful and constitutional framework," he added to chants of "No concessions after today!".
His ruling party also said it had not received a proposed transition plan from opposition parties that envisages Saleh handing power to a vice president while steps are taken towards creating a national unity government and calling new elections. "We haven't got it yet," an official said.
The United States has talked openly of its concern about who might succeed Saleh, a man it views as an ally who has helped to contain al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based wing of the militant group.
Opposition groups stepped up action against Saleh in the port city of Aden, seat of a separatist movement by southerners who say the 1994 unification of South Yemen with Saleh's north has left them marginalised.
Much of the city was deserted in a second day of civil disobedience as businesses stopped work. Opposition groups have also called on people to stop paying taxes and utility bills.
Thousands have camped out around Sanaa University since early February, but in the past two weeks Saleh has begun mobilising thousands of his own supporters on the streets.
On Saturday, seven protesters were wounded in the western port of Hudaida when riot police used batons and tear gas to disperse demonstrators.
One soldier was killed and three were wounded in a clash on Sunday with armed men at a military checkpoint in Milah in the southern province of Lahej, an official said, blaming southern separatists.
A police colonel and two companions were wounded when men opened fire on their convoy in southern Dalea province, another official said. He did not say who he believed was responsible.
Saleh digs heels in
Saleh, in power for 32 years, has said that he would be prepared to step down within a year after parliamentary and presidential elections and that an abrupt exit would cause chaos. On Saturday, he thanked thousands of supporters gathered near the presidential palace for backing the constitution.
Under the opposition plan, the army and security forces would be restructured by a vice-president acting as temporary president, the opposition coalition said on Saturday. Wide discussions could then be held on constitutional changes, a unity government and new elections.
Talks have been off and on over the past two weeks, sometimes in the presence of the U.S. ambassador. Sources say Saleh wants to ensure he and his family do not face prosecution over corruption claims that the opposition has talked about.
The death of 52 protesters on March 18, apparently at the hands of government snipers, led to a string of defections among diplomats, tribal leaders and key generals, spurring Saleh to warn against a coup that he says would lead to civil war.
At least 82 people have died so far in the protests.
Foreign backers such as the United States and neighbouring Saudi Arabia are worried about who would succeed Saleh.
They have long regarded Saleh as a bulwark of stability who can keep al Qaeda from extending its power in a country which many see as close to disintegration. Opposition parties say they can handle militants better than Saleh, who they say made deals in the past to avoid provoking Islamists.
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