News / Middle East

Yemeni President Vows to Stay, At Least 3 Dead in Protests

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh (C) attends a rally held by pro-government supporters in Sanaa, May 13, 2011
Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh (C) attends a rally held by pro-government supporters in Sanaa, May 13, 2011

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh says he has no immediate plans to leave his post, as thousands of anti-government activists in the capital rallied for his resignation.

Saleh described his opponents as criminals during a speech to a large crowd of loyalists in Sana'a on Friday.  He also urged the opposition to stop "playing with fire" because he said the Yemeni military would not stand by "idly."

In response to the speech, Yemen's opposition accused the president of calling for war in the country.

Meanwhile, anti-government activists gathered across the country for what they are calling "Friday of Decisiveness" protests.  Witnesses quoted by news agencies say at least three people were killed and about a dozen others wounded after security forces opened fire on demonstrators.

News reports say Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) chief Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani will travel to Yemen on Saturday in a bid to resurrect a deal brokered by the group. The deal calls for Saleh to transfer powers to a deputy, but he has refused to sign it in his capacity as president.

Qatar pulled out of the GCC plan on Thursday. A foreign ministry official said Qatar was forced to act because of "indecision and delays in signing the proposed agreement" and the "continued escalation and intensity of clashes" between Yemeni security forces and opposition protesters.

In a separate development, the French news agency AFP says suspected al-Qaida militants ambushed a military vehicle in Yemen on Friday and killed five soldiers.

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

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