Yemeni protesters fill streets, calling for president's ouster
The thousands of Yemenis who turned out to protest President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule were met with counterprotests by government supporters.
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Thousands of Yemenis protested in the streets of Sanaa today, on the heels of popular movements in Tunisia and Egypt. The protesters are calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a US ally who has been in power for 32 years.
"The people want a change in president," protesters chanted, according to Reuters, which estimated that 10,000 had shown up at Sanaa University and about 7,000 elsewhere in the city. "Look at Tunis and what it did. Yemen's people are stronger."
Saleh is also accused of trying to bequeath power to his son in the impoverished Middle Eastern nation that has come under increased US attention as it deals with instability on multiple fronts – a resurgent Al Qaeda movement, secessionists in its south, and a rebellion in its north.
There have not yet been clashes between police and protesters, Reuters adds. Government supporters held counterprotests, with thousands using the slogan, “No to toppling democracy and the Constitution,” Al Jazeera reports.
Protesters also addressed mounting social problems in the Arab world’s poorest nation, where nearly half the population is illiterate and a third is unemployed, the BBC notes. One banner at a popular protest read: "Enough playing around, enough corruption, look at the gap between poverty and wealth."
While today’s protests are the largest mobilization, smaller ones began last week, with prominent female activist Towakil Karman arrested Sunday on charges of organizing unlicensed rallies, undermining public social peace, and inciting to commit acts of rioting. Under apparent pressure from protesters,she was released on Monday along with nearly three dozen other jailed activists, The Christian Science Monitor reported.