Tag Archive: Gulf Cooperation Council


Gunmen kill 10 in Yemen anti-government protests

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a rally to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh outside Sanaahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110427/wl_nm/us_yemen

By Mohammed Ghobari Mohammed Ghobari Wed Apr 27, 2:01 pm ET

SANAA (Reuters) – Plainclothes gunmen killed 10 people and wounded dozens more in Yemen’s capital Wednesday when they opened fire on protesters demanding the immediate ouster of the president, whom Gulf Arab mediators want to ease from power.

The killings capped a day of demonstrations by tens of thousands of Yemenis, many protesting against a plan supported by the government and the main opposition group which would give President Ali Abdullah Saleh a month-long window to resign.

The deal, brokered by Gulf Cooperation Council, would also give him and his family immunity from prosecution.

The protesters in Sanaa were attempting to reach an area beyond the district where they have been camped out since February, and were demanding Saleh leave office immediately, witnesses said.

“We received bodies and have taken them to a private hospital,” said Mohammad al-Qubati, who is a physician at the field hospital where protesters have gathered. A doctor at the scene later said at least 10 people had died of their wounds.

Earlier, protesters blocked access to a key Red Sea port, and clashed with security forces in south Yemen. One protester and one soldier were killed in those clashes, hospital and local officials said.

“The people want a departure, not an initiative,” the protesters shouted outside the port of Hudaida, where maritime operations functioned as usual.

Separately, security forces shot at least four protesters in the southern Lahij province, witnesses and medical sources said.

The deal aimed at ending Yemen’s political standoff was expected to be signed Sunday in Riyadh, three months after Yemenis first took to the streets to demand Saleh’s ouster, inspired by revolts that toppled rulers in Egypt and Tunisia.

The balance of power has tipped against Saleh, who has been a key ally of the West against al Qaeda, after weeks of violence, military defections and political reversals.

In Hudaida, protest organizer Abdul Hafez Muajeb said the coastguard had welcomed demonstrators and had raised a banner saying they would not use weapons against the people.

“We will close the port because its revenues are used to fund the thugs,” said protester Muaz Abdullah, referring to plainclothes security men who often use daggers and bats to break up protests.

PROTESTS REJECT GULF TRANSITION PACT

The large turnout at protests shows the ability of the mostly young protesters, including students, tribesmen and activists, to act as potential spoilers of the Gulf deal. They have vowed to stay in the streets until their demands are met.

It is also not clear that opposition parties, comprised of Islamists, Arab nationalists and leftists who have been in and out of government in recent years, could halt the protests even if required to by the transition agreement.

Washington and neighboring oil producer Saudi Arabia want the standoff resolved. They fear a descent into more bloodshed in the Arabian Peninsula state would offer more room for a Yemen-based al Qaeda wing to operate.

The Gulf deal provides for Saleh to appoint a prime minister from the opposition, who would then form a transition government ahead of a presidential election two months after his resignation. But the one-month window for Saleh to resign has sparked fears it may offer time for potential sabotage.

Mohammed Basindwa, a senior opposition leader regarded as a top candidate to lead a transition government, said he expected a deal to be signed without further negotiations, and said Saleh was not expected to attend the Riyadh meeting.

Saleh, who has ruled for 32 years, would sign the agreement in Sanaa while the opposition would sign in Riyadh in the presence of a government delegation, Basindwa said.

Asked if he was confident Saleh would step down after the 30-day window, Basindwa said: “The United States and the European Union and Gulf states guaranteed that all sides will stick to implementing the agreement.”

Other clashes erupted in the main southern city of Aden when young protesters tried to enforce a general strike that has paralyzed the port city as most businesses and schools closed, a local government official said.

Strikes were also under way in Taiz, which has seen some of the largest anti-Saleh protests, and in Ibb, south of Sanaa.

Elsewhere in the south, gunmen shot dead two more soldiers and wounded five in an attack on a military checkpoint that was blamed on al Qaeda loyalists, a local official said.

Around 130 protesters have been killed as unrest has swept Yemen, where some 40 percent of its 23 million people live on $2 a day or less, and a third face chronic hunger.

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Crowds rally in Yemen for and against Saleh

File photo shows Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh looking at his watch during a rally in Sanaahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110422/wl_nm/us_yemen

By Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari Mohamed Sudam And Mohammed Ghobari Fri Apr 22, 5:05 pm ET

SANAA (Reuters) – Yemenis flooded the streets of Sanaa and Taiz on Friday in rival demonstrations for and against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who gave a guarded welcome to a Gulf Arab plan for a three-month transition of power.

He told supporters in Sanaa any arrangements had to be “within the framework of the Yemen constitution” — language which could mask objections to the plan — and also vowed to “confront challenge with challenge,” but without bloodshed.

“Guns can be used today but you cannot use them to rule tomorrow. We reject war,” Saleh declared.

Ten soldiers were killed in three attacks by tribesmen and al Qaeda militants in several provinces, officials said.

In the southern city of Taiz, riot police fired in the air to keep vast, unruly crowds of pro and anti-Saleh demonstrators apart, but there were no serious injuries, witnesses said.

A sea of anti-Saleh protesters, perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, inundated the streets of Taiz, Yemen’s third city and an epicenter of opposition to the 69-year-old president.

But in Yemen’s northwestern city of Hajja, a 12-year-old boy was shot dead when security forces opened fire to prevent a crowd of anti-government protesters entering the city, witnesses told Reuters by telephone.

Tens of thousands of Saleh loyalists turned out in Sanaa, the capital, for what they called a “Friday of Reconciliation,” waving Yemeni flags and pictures of the president.

Their numbers were matched by protesters demanding Saleh’s immediate departure, spilling out of their usual protest area around Sanaa University to mark a “Last Chance Friday” in nearby Siteen street, where there was a heavy security presence.

That raised concern that Saleh’s security forces and republican guards might clash with troops loyal to renegade general Ali Mohsen, protecting the protesters in Sanaa.

Demonstrators voiced skepticism about the latest Gulf plan aimed at halting Yemen’s descent into more violence and chaos.

The proposal of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) calls for Saleh to hand power to his vice president one month after signing an agreement. He would appoint an opposition leader to lead an interim cabinet tasked with preparing for presidential elections two months later, a Yemeni official said.

IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION

The plan, presented on Thursday, also gives immunity from prosecution to Saleh, his family and aides — anathema to his foes, who would also have to end protests under the proposal.

“We won’t depend on any initiative that doesn’t demand that this man leaves right away,” said protester Manea Abdullah. “We are sticking to the demands of the revolution for an immediate departure and prosecution of those who killed our comrades.”

Saleh’s long-time Gulf and Western allies, concerned that chaos in Yemen will open more opportunities for ambitious al Qaeda militants, are trying to broker an orderly transition after three months of protests against Saleh’s 32-year rule.

Protests in the southern port of Aden started up later in the evening on Friday, as thousands of demonstrators calling for Saleh’s departure sought to avoid temperatures of over 40 degrees celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

While organized opposition parties may still be ready to do a deal, many protesters do not trust Saleh to implement it.

“This guy is a liar, we won’t believe anything even if the opposition accepts the Gulf initiative,” said Abdulnasser Ahmed.

“Every time he agrees to something, then backs off. We know his ways and so does the rest of the world. That’s why the world should support our demands that he go.”

In the lawless eastern province of Maarib, a local official said anti-Saleh tribesmen had ambushed troops trying to secure a key route for gas shipments, killing two soldiers, wounding 18 and destroying a tank and an armored vehicle.

Tribesmen disrupting the main road from Sanaa to Maarib, where most of Yemen’s gas is produced, have made it impossible for trucks to distribute cooking gas to the rest of the country.

Shortages have quadrupled cooking gas prices on the black market to 5,000 rials ($20) from 1,200. Infuriated residents have blocked roads in some Sanaa districts with empty gas bottles. The crisis has prompted others to join anti-Saleh protests, where they have scrawled “Leave” on gas canisters.

Prolonged turmoil has driven the rial to near-record lows of around 250 to the dollar from 214 nine weeks ago. It has become harder to find outlets ready to sell dollars, residents say.

Violence involving suspected al Qaeda militants also flared on Friday, with seven soldiers killed when their convoy came under fire in Maarib, a government official said.

One soldier was killed and another wounded when the army clashed with gunmen thought to belong to al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing tried to seize a post office in Zinjibar, in the southeastern province of Abyan. The armed men later sped away on motorcycles.

The toll in a Thursday night clash in the southern province of Lahej rose to five soldiers killed and three wounded, according to a local official. Two militants were also killed.

(Additional reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden and Erika Solomon in Dubai; writing by Alistair Lyon; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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