Friday, 21 January 2011

Violent protests erupt in Yemen - Several killed

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Yemen on Thursday to reject proposed political reform by the government, including a limit on presidential terms. The government announced its reform plans in the face of growing discontent that sparked sporadic protests this week. Opposition parties said they would meet on Saturday to discuss the offer as thousands of people protested in the southern town of Taiz, saying the reforms proposed by President Ali Abdullah Saleh did not go far enough. Saleh has ruled Yemen for over three decades. “We want constitutional amendments but we want amendments that don’t lead to the continuance of the ruler and the inheritance of power to his children”, said Mohammed al-Sabry, head of the opposition coalition and the party Islah.

“We won’t permit these corrupt leaders to stay in power and we are ready to sleep in the streets for our country’s sake, in order to liberate it from the hands of the corrupt”, Sabry said. The protests come as Tunisia grapples with fallout from the ouster of its long-time president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled the country with his family taking 1.5 tones of gold away from Tunisia, after weeks of violent unrest sparked by social grievances. Among the steps put forward by Saleh’s ruling party, the General People’s Congress, are amendments to guarantee presidential term limits of two seven- or five-year terms as well as voter registration to all Yemeni adults. Several people have been killed and injured as a result of these protests throughout Yemen during the last couple of weeks.

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