Yemen opposition urges Gulf states to press Saleh


Yemen’s opposition coalition called on Gulf states to pressure President Ali Abdullah Saleh to relinquish power as three more people died in protests against his long rule.

The call came ahead of Tuesday’s summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the regional bloc that presented a plan 10 days ago to try to end months of unrest in Yemen. Saleh has yet to sign.

The plan requires the Yemeni leader, until recently backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States as a bulwark against al Qaeda and regional instability, to resign 30 days after signing, Reuters reports.
“The Joint Meetings (coalition) calls on brotherly countries to withhold any official contacts with what remains of this bloody regime and to refrain from offering any material or moral support which it would use to suppress the people,” an opposition statement said.
“Any additional delay in signing this agreement by the regime … or what is left of it, will force it to face its people’s choices … which we invite our (GCC) brothers to support,” the statement said.

Critics saw Saleh’s refusal a week ago to sign up to the deal as a clear sign that the shrewd political survivor had no intention of stepping down quickly after three decades in office.

Demonstrations demanding Saleh’s resignation were held on Sunday in areas including Yemen’s Indian Ocean island of Socotra, the southwestern city of Ibb, the southern city of Taiz and the Red Sea coastal province of Hudaida, residents said.

Plain-clothed gunmen believed to be security police opened fire on demonstrators in the town of Saidia in Hudaida, killing one person and injuring six, a local activist said.
“A march started as a protest against fuel shortages but turned into an anti-Saleh demonstration,” the activist told Reuters by telephone.

In Taiz, about 2,000 people — many of them teachers and students — blockaded an education ministry building in a demonstration demanding the postponement of school exams. Many also chanted slogans calling on Saleh to resign.

Later, hundreds of anti-government protesters joined the gathering and clashes broke out with police and troops as the crowd moved to block a main street. Two protesters were shot dead and 10 injured, Hamoud Aqlan, a doctor working at a makeshift clinic treating the wounded, told Reuters.

Many of the demonstrators, who include students, tribesmen and activists, have vowed to stay on the streets until Saleh steps down. Many are not affiliated with opposition parties, comprised of Islamists, Arab nationalists and leftists who have cooperated with Saleh in the past.

Saleh has withstood three months of unrest — in which about 150 people have been killed — and on Friday called his opponents “outlaws” and “forces of terror.”