Yemen's Saleh again rejects move to replace him

2 protesters reportedly shot dead, 25 wounded by gunfire during protests in southern city of Taiz; 200 hurt by tear gas inhalation.

April 8, 2011 18:00
2 minute read.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh 311 Reu. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Two protesters were shot dead and 25 wounded by gunfire during protests in the southern Yemen city of Taiz on Friday, hospital sources said. Some 200 were hurt by tear gas inhalation.

Despite the protests to oust him, President Ali Abdullah Saleh rejected a new deal to secure an end to his 32 years in power.

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Saleh, facing an unprecedented challenge from hundreds of thousands of protesters, initially accepted an offer by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to hold talks with the opposition.

On Wednesday, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said the GCC would strike a deal for Saleh to leave.

"We don't get our legitimacy from Qatar or from anyone else...we reject this belligerent intervention," Saleh told a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters in the capital Sanaa.

Frustration with the impasse may push the thousands of Yemenis who have taken to the streets closer to violence. Some 21 people died in clashes this week in Taiz, south of the capital and the Red Sea port of Hudaida.

"I don't think the GCC or the West want Yemen to go down the road of Libya, because that's exactly where it's going," said Theodore Karasik, an analyst at the Dubai based INEGMA group.

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"The more entrenched Saleh gets, the greater the outside pressure, so this could really illustrate how much influence outside powers actually have over Yemen."

Fresh clashes broke out in Taiz on Friday when hundreds of protesters clashed with police, who fired gunshots and tear gas. Two protesters were shot dead and 25 wounded by gunfire, hospital sources said. Some 200 were hurt by tear gas inhalation.

The protesters had been carrying the bodies of five people killed earlier in the week to their gravesites when they ran into security forces.

In the port city of Aden, once the capital of an independent south, thousands of anti-government protesters gathered peacefully and in Hudaida, some 15,000 gathered to mourn protester deaths and demand Saleh step down.

"We're tired of this poverty and oppression in Hudaida and all of Yemen," said protester Abdullah Fakira. "Enough already."

Some 40 percent of Yemen's 23-million people live on less than $2 a day and a third face chronic hunger. Poverty and exasperation with rampant corruption, protesters say, drove the pro-democracy protests that began over two months ago.

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