Students hold Yemen protest, demand president quit

via AFP:

SANAA — Several thousand young Yemenis gathered in central Sanaa on Saturday, calling for President Ali Abdallah Saleh to step down and follow the example of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, an AFP correspondent said.

"After Mubarak, it's Ali's turn," chanted some of the estimated 4,000 protesters, mostly young students.

The protesters then headed off towards Sanaa University, with some crying: "Get out, Get out Ali" and others chanting: "The people want the regime to fall."


The protest began after an exchange between a group of students trying to put up an anti-regime poster and supporters of the ruling General People's Congress (GPC) who tried to prevent them, according to witnesses.

By midday (0900 GMT), the demonstrators had reached the Avenue Gamal Abdel Nasser, some 500 metres (yards) from Tahrir Square which was occupied by an estimated 10,000 supporters of the ruling party.

Many of the GPC members carried clubs while others could be seen armed with knives, determined to keep the protesters from taking possession of the square where many tents have been erected to hinder any takeover.

Neither side appeared keen to clash and the sheer numbers of the ruling party supporters, who included at least two from the politburo, Aref al-Zouka and Sanaa mayor Abderrahman al-Akwa, saw the young students begin to disperse peacefully.

This was hastened by the arrival of the traditional daily "qat" hour with some protesters heading off to the local market to buy the leaf drug which is widely chewed as part of the Yemeni tradition of weighty discussion of the day's events.

Ruling party members in the square could also be seen sharing qat.

On Friday, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Yemen's capital to celebrate the resignation of the Egyptian president, an AFP correspondent said.

Several hundred protesters tried unsuccessfully to approach the Egyptian embassy, which was protected by a large police force, while others gathered in Al-Tahrir Square outside the seat of the Yemeni government.

Yemeni security personnel were also out in force around the square, and elsewhere in the capital.

Some demonstrators chanted slogans such as "Yesterday Tunisia, today Egypt, and tomorrow Yemenis will break their chains" and "The people want to overthrow the regime."

Tens of thousands of demonstrators turned out on February 3 to protest against the rule of Saleh, who has been in power since 1978.

An equal number of pro-regime demonstrators also took to the streets on the same day.

The situation has since calmed, with the parliamentary opposition calling on the president to implement promised reforms.

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