In Yemen's Tahrir Square, progrovernment crowds counter 'day of wrath'
In Yemen's capital of Sanaa, progovernment demonstrators – thought to have been brought in by the government – carried posters of President Saleh, plastered their SUVs with posters of President Saleh, and ostentatiously declared their love for President Saleh.
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The opposition has said it will stage a demonstration every Thursday until there is "real action" to enact government reforms. For now, they say they feel that Saleh’s statements are just lip service aimed at preventing mass uprising in Yemen.Skip to next paragraph
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“[Saleh’s speech] was repetitive. There are no practical steps in the direction of reform,” said lawyer Amin Al Khadiri at today’s protest. “His speech was a reaction to what happened in Tunisia and Egypt after the political earthquake that is going across the Middle East.”
Indeed, antigovernment demonstrators told the Monitor they prayed at today’s rally that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and all other dictators be removed from power.
“We cannot find work because there is corruption. There is no real justice in Yemeni society. Some people get everything and others are starving,” yells Mohamed al-Amrany, who says he can’t afford to pay for his university studies.
Despite worries about clashes between the two pro- and antigovernment demonstrations, Thursday’s protests were relatively peaceful, and dispersed around noon. Progovernment demonstrators have vowed to camp out in Sanaa's Tahrir Square until Friday night.
“The president's address was brave, balanced, and it meets a great deal of the opposition’s demands. But what is required now is practical steps to translate the words into actions on the ground,” says ruling party parliament member Ali Al-Mamari.
Meanwhile, Washington, which wants to avoid chaos in heavily armed Yemen, where an active branch of Al Qaeda has set up a base, also praised Saleh’s remarks on Wednesday and said that they were steps in the right direction.