Thousands of Yemeni students, activists and opposition groups have
held protests at Sanaa University, demanding President Ali Abdullah
Saleh's ouster in what appeared to be the first large-scale challenge
to the strongman.

Around 2,500 students, activists and opposition groups chanted slogans
against the president, comparing him to Tunisia's ousted President
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose people were similarly enraged by
economic woes and government corruption.

"Oh, Ali, join your friend Ben Ali," protesters chanted.

Police fired tear gas at the demonstrators, whose grievances include
proposed constitutional changes that would allow the president to rule
for a lifetime. Around 30 protesters were detained, a security
official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not
authorised to speak to the press.

Since the Tunisian turmoil, Saleh has ordered income taxes slashed in
half and has instructed his government to control prices.

He also ordered a heavy deployment of anti-riot police and soldiers to
several key areas in the capital and its surroundings to prevent any

Peoples' grievances

Nearly half of Yemen's population lives below the poverty line of $2 a
day and doesn't have access to proper sanitation. Less than a tenth of
the roads are paved. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their
homes by conflict, flooding the cities.

The government is riddled with corruption, has little control outside
the capital, and its main source of income - oil - could run dry in a

Protests were also held in the southern port city of Aden, where calls
for Saleh to step down were heard along with the more familiar slogans
for southern secession. Police fired on demonstrators, injuring four,
and detained 22 others in heavy clashes.

Musid Ali, executive director of the Yemeni-American anti-terrorism
center, told Al Jazeera that protests in Yemen were natural given long
years of suffering from dictatorship.

"It is natural for an uprising to come. This has come after 30 years
of rule, people are hungry; there is no development for the people,
people are fed up, people are saying Ali Saleh enough is enough.

"The Yemeni regime is the terror in Yemen, they are using al Qaeda to
get more money from the west," he said.

While some students protested against Saleh, others affiliated with
his General People's Congress demonstrated in his support, with
banners calling for him to remain in office, and for parliamentary
elections to be held in April.

Saleh said in December that parliamentary polls would take place in
April with or without opposition parties, some of which have said they
are considering boycotting the election.

Marxism-Thaxis mailing list
To change your options or unsubscribe go to:

Reply via email to