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Rival Rallies in Yemen Draw Thousands


Anti-government protesters gesture during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Aug. 12, 2011

Anti-government protesters gesture during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Aug. 12, 2011

Thousands of opponents of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh have renewed calls for his departure.

Protesters massed in cities across the country on Friday. Some waved flags and chanted anti-government slogans.

Government loyalists, meanwhile, rallied in a central square in the capital, Sana'a. The state-run SABA news agency showed photos of supporters carrying large pictures of the embattled president.

On Thursday, Mr. Saleh told members of his General Congress People's party once again that he is willing to consider a Gulf Cooperation Council plan that would call for him to eventually step down, if this can take place in "a way that would guarantee a peaceful and smooth transfer of power."

The GCC plan, first proposed in April, calls for President Saleh to cede power to his vice president, with formation of a national unity government and presidential elections.

Mr. Saleh has agreed to the Gulf Plan three times, but in each case withdrew before a deal could be signed.

Opposition parties say they are working to create a national council to force Mr. Saleh out of office.

Yemeni government officials say that would be an "act of war."

Mr. Saleh has been in neighboring Saudi Arabia since June, receiving medical treatment for wounds sustained during a bomb attack on his presidential compound. Authorities in Sana'a say he is still recuperating and will return home as soon as doctors allow him to do so.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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