Yemenis urge Arab League to suspend their country

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An anti-government protester holds up a rose during a demonstration to demand the ouster and trial of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz November 16, 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Published Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Anti-regime protesters, inspired by the suspension of Syria from the Arab League, staged a massive rally in Sanaa on Wednesday to urge the regional grouping to do the same with Yemen.

"Arab League, we demand the freezing of (Yemeni) membership," chanted the protesters who marched from Change Square, the epicenter of anti-government demonstrations, towards al-Hasaba -- both in the north of the capital.

"No immunity for the killer, resist, people, resist," they chanted, referring to a Gulf plan to end 10 months of unrest under which veteran President Ali Abdullah Saleh would step down in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his family.

"Silence after today is shameful, after the bombs and the destruction," they shouted.

Security forces fired warning shots in the air when protesters passed by a house owned by Saleh. No casualties were reported.

Saleh, who has been in power in Sanaa since 1978, has come under mounting domestic and international pressure to step down in line with the Gulf-brokered peace initiative.

Saleh has accepted the plan but has yet to sign off on it.

The Arab League voted on Saturday to suspend Syria from the pan-Arab body and impose sanctions after more than 3,500 people were killed since protests erupted in March against President Bashar Assad's regime, according to UN figures.

Eighteen of the bloc's 22 members voted to suspend Syria, while Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen voted against the move, and Iraq abstained.

Syria has been the focus of international pressure over its crackdown on protesters, while Yemen's Saleh has largely escaped world scrutiny, despite months of mass protests against his autocratic rule.

Yemen's Saleh has been a key US ally in the fight against al-Qaeda militants in the south of the country.

(al-Akhbar, AFP)

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