Mass Yemeni protest denounces violence, Saleh
Published Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Yemen's capital Wednesday to denounce violence a day after a failed attempt to assassinate the defense minister killed 12 people.
Protesters answering a call to demonstrate "against terrorism and assassinations" also slammed ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh whom they accuse of fueling violence, and called for an end to his immunity from prosecution.
"Terrorism and Al-Qaeda are Ali Saleh and his sons," chanted demonstrators in the protest called by a group of activists from the Committee of Youth of the Peaceful Revolution.
"No immunity for the killer!" they shouted, referring to the immunity granted to Saleh and his aides under a Gulf-brokered deal last year in which he stood down, bowing to domestic and international pressure.
The demonstrations are some of the largest Yemen has seen since popular protests brought down the country's autocratic president last year. Nearly 200,000 are reported to have taken to the streets on Tuesday in response to a call by the Committee of Youth of Peaceful Revolution.
"This is what creates a lot of rage, the fact that even though he was overthrown, he is still making decisions and has power and immunity," Ibrahim Mothana, a local activist, told Al-Akhbar Tuesday.
Mothana said protesters marched towards the Saleh residence where the ousted dictator has been holed up for his own security, but it was unclear how far they were willing to go, knowing that his security forces may fire on them.
The protesters marched from Sittin Avenue in Sanaa's northern district past President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's residence before gathering at Change Square, the focus of last year's protest movement in which hundreds of people died nationwide.
"Hadi, sack the rest, Hadi!" they chanted a day after the new president removed senior security chiefs seen as loyal to Saleh.
Among those removed was the head of the country's National Security force, Ali al-Anisi, and Saleh's half-brother Ali Saleh al-Ahmar, who was director of the office of the armed forces' top commander.
During his 33 years in power, Saleh chose his aides carefully, appointing relatives to head security services.
On Tuesday, a car bomb targeting Defense Minister Mohammed Nasser Ahmed ripped through a vehicle carrying his guards, killing seven, as well as five other people.
Ahmed survived the assassination bid that followed a Sunday announcement by defense ministry website 26sep.net that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's number two, Saeed al-Shehri, was killed by the army in east Yemen.
"This is Saleh's Al-Qaeda; it targets all the honorable and nationalist" leaders, activist Mahmud al-Sharaie told AFP during Wednesday's rally.