Thousands Rally in Yemen, Joining Tunisia and Egypt in Anti-government Protests

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, key U.S. ally in war against Al-Qaida in Yemen, has ruled impoverished Arabian Peninsula state for more than 30 years.

Reuters
Reuters
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Reuters
Reuters

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Sanaa, Yemen on Thursday to demand a change of government, inspired by the unrest that has ousted Tunisia's leader and spread to Egypt this week.

At least four people have been killed in the clashes in Egypt since activists took to the streets on Tuesday in a bid to oust Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Protesters march during an anti-government demonstration in Yemen on January 27, 2011.Credit: Reuters

Egypt's general prosecutor on Thursday charged 40 people with attempting to overthrow the regime, after a round of protests unprecedented during Mubarak's strong-handed 30-year rule.

Prominent reform campaigner Mohammed ElBaradei, who lives in Vienna, will return to Egypt on Thursday and is expected to take part in the mass demonstrations called for Friday.

In Yemen, protesters scattered across the city in the largest wave of anti-government protests Yemen has witnessed yet.

"The people want a change in president," shouted protesters who gathered at Sanaa University for one of the demonstrations.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key ally of the United States in its war against a resurgent Yemeni arm of Al-Qaida, has ruled the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state for over 30 years.

At least 10,000 protesters gathered at Sanaa University and around 6,000 more elsewhere in Sanaa in protests organized by Yemen's opposition coalition, Reuters witnesses said. Police watched but no clashes were reported.

Protesters said they were demanding improvements in living conditions as well as political change. One banner read: "Enough playing around, enough corruption, look at the gap between poverty and wealth."

A competing pro-government protest organized by Yemen's ruling party in another district of Sanaa gathered a few hundred demonstrators, witnesses said.

At least 100 troops from Yemen's security forces spread across a square where many banks are located, though there were no protesters there, a Reuters witness said.

Yemen, in the shadow of the world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, is struggling with soaring unemployment and dwindling oil and water reserves. Almost half its 23 million people live on $2 a day or less and a third suffer from chronic hunger.

"We are partners in this nation and we won't submit to exclusion. Look at Tunis and what it did. Yemen's people are stronger," protesters chanted at the university protest.

Saleh has tried to calm discontent, last week proposing constitutional amendments including presidential term limits with two terms of five or seven years. This week he also promised to raise the salary of all civil servants and military personal by at least 47 dollars a month.

Like the Yemenis and Tunisians, Egyptians complain about surging prices, a lack of jobs and authoritarian rulers who have relied on heavy-handed security to keep dissenting voices quiet.

After decades in which Mubarak's rule has never been seriously challenged, Egypt's large, youthful population has grown increasingly restive and bolder in demanding change.

Egypt's population of some 80 million is growing by 2 percent a year. Two thirds of the population is under 30, and that age group accounts for 90 percent of the jobless. About 40 percent live on less than $2 a day, and a third is illiterate.

Tunisians have offered their own tips to their fellow Arabs. "May God be with you Egyptians," wrote one activist on Facebook, explaining how to deal with teargas or how best to evade arrest.

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott