Yemeni president swears not to step down

Updated: 2011-04-01 20:21


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SANAA - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh pledged in front of tens of thousands of his loyalists on Friday to confront the anti-government street protests demanding his immediate resignation, swearing to "sacrifice everything" for his loyalists.

"I promise you that I will sacrifice my blood and soul and everything precious for the sake of the great people," he told the crowds of his loyalists in the capital Sanaa.

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Saleh, who is facing mounting street protests demanding him to leave power immediately, made no more remarks in his speech to the loyalists who flooded Sanaa from several provinces to back his constitutional right to stay in office until his term expires in 2013.

Saleh's loyalists dubbed the demonstration "Friday of Solidarity" to counter their rivals in the opposition, who also drew tens of thousands in a separated square outside Sanaa University on Friday, calling it as "Friday of Liberation".

The Saleh supporters staged their demonstration in downtown Sanaa and Al-Sabeen area, which is close to the presidential palace.

Police and military forces were deployed at the entrances of the rallies and set up large roadblocks to separate the two rival rallies to avoid any possible clashes.

Both pro and anti-government demonstrations were reportedly organized in all major provinces.

The president and opposition have reached a deadlock in their ongoing negotiations for peacefully transiting the power. They have been trading accusations of hindering the conciliation talks.

The standoff between them resulted in the deterioration of economic situation as well as security stability after the government pulled police out from some towns.

The absence of police and deterioration of security in some southern provinces led anti-government protesters to set up militias for self-defense, while well-armed resurgent al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized control over some remote areas.

Insisting that the majority of people were supporting him, Saleh stopped offering any more concessions to the opposition, which asked him to resign before 2013.


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