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Middle East
'Hundreds of thousands' protest in Yemen
Pro-democracy rallies held in several cities as ruling party seeks Saleh's go-ahead for holding talks with opposition.
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2011 17:08
A delegation of the ruling party has travelled to Saudi Arabia to discuss a power-transfer plan with Saleh [EPA]

Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis have flooded the streets of the capital, Sanaa, and elsewhere after Friday prayers in the ongoing protest against Ali Abdullah Saleh 33-year rule, witnesses and the opposition say.

In the southwestern province of Taez, where the outpouring was significant, three children were wounded when a landmine exploded.

Protesters in Sanaa braved rainfall and were protected by troops loyal to Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a dissident general, as they gathered after weekly Muslim prayers at University Square - which they have dubbed Change Square.

"The mask of the regime has fallen ... for 33 years the country has been a hostage of a family band," the prayer leader was quoted as saying.

He called on the "silent fringes [of the population] to join the revolution", telling the government's supporters that "the end of injustice is inevitable and near".

In Sabbine Avenue, near the presidential palace on the other side of Sanaa, tens of thousands of loyalists also demonstrated after prayers, carrying portraits of the president and chanting "the people want Ali Abdullah Saleh".

Massive turnout

Elsewhere in Yemen, in Taez, Hodeidah, Ibb, Al-Bayda, Aden and Saada provinces, anti-government demonstrators turned out in huge numbers.

In a northern suburb of Taez, three children were hurt when a landmine exploded, an opposition source reported, saying the army had mined the area to prevent residents from reaching the city and demonstrating.

The protests came a day after a delegation from Yemen's ruling party reportedly headed to Riyadh to seek permission from Saleh for his deputy to negotiate a power-transfer plan with the opposition.

"The delegation is heading to Riyadh to meet the president and ask him to authorise his deputy to start the dialogue" with the opposition, which is demanding Saleh's overthrow, a party official told the AFP news agency.

General Sultan Barakani, the assistant secretary-general of the General People's Congress (GPC), the ruling party, said: "It has been agreed that Saleh would issue a decree vesting his deputy with constitutional powers to hold talks with the parties that have signed the Gulf initiative and agree on a timetable and mechanism to implement it."

He said implementation of the plan proposed by the Gulf Co-operation Council "would lead to holding early presidential elections that would guarantee a peaceful and democratic transition of power".

Source:
Agencies
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