News / Middle East

    Anti-Government Protests Continue in Yemen

    Supporters of the Yemeni government react during clashes with anti-government demonstrators, in Sanaa, Yemen, February 17, 2011
    Supporters of the Yemeni government react during clashes with anti-government demonstrators, in Sanaa, Yemen, February 17, 2011

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    • Sarah Lee Whitson, Exec Dir, Middle East & North Africa Div, Human Rights Watch

    Government loyalists have clashed with protesters in Yemen, as demonstrations calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh broke out for a seventh day.

    Witnesses said the anti-government protesters had gathered at Sana'a University in the capital and clashed with loyalists armed with batons and daggers.

    At least four people were wounded in a similar confrontation Wednesday, as student demonstrators were trying to march from the university toward the city center.  The students threw rocks at their attackers, and said they plan to continue marching from the university.

    One person was killed Wednesday during a clash between demonstrators and police in the southern city of Aden.

    Separately, hundreds of judges protested outside the justice ministry in the capital.  They called for an independent judiciary and better salaries.  

    Protesters calling for President Saleh's resignation also maintained a vigil in a central square in the southwestern city of Taiz.  Some demonstrators have put up makeshift tents in the square, mirroring actions taken during recent anti-government protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

    Opposition protests began in Sana'a last Friday, inspired by the 18-day uprising in Egypt that forced the country's president to step down.  In Yemen, Mr. Saleh's supporters have confronted the opposition activists each day, leading to clashes.

    In a gesture to his critics, President Saleh said earlier this month that he will not seek re-election when his term ends in 2013.  He has been in office since 1978.

    Yemen is one of the world's poorest nations and is beset by several internal conflicts involving southern secessionists, northern rebels and al-Qaida insurgents.

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

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