News / Middle East

Thousands Rally in Yemen After President Appears on TV

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a rally held after the weekly Friday prayers to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz, July 8, 2011
Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a rally held after the weekly Friday prayers to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz, July 8, 2011

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Audio
  • Interview with Richard Haass, Council on Foreign Relations

Thousands of Yemenis are rallying on Friday, a day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh made his first public appearance since traveling to Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for injuries.

VOA's Susan Yackee speaks with Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, about how the Arab Spring is evolving:

State-run television says pro-government rallies are underway in several cities while a Western news report says government opponents are holding rival demonstrations.

The nation remains in political paralysis with opponents demanding Ali Abdullah Saleh's immediate resignation and Saleh showing no signs of vacating office.

A still image from a video broadcast on Yemen TV shows Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaking from an undisclosed location in Saudi Arabia, July 7, 2011
A still image from a video broadcast on Yemen TV shows Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaking from an undisclosed location in Saudi Arabia, July 7, 2011

On Thursday, Saleh delivered a taped video message from Saudi Arabia, where he is receiving treatment for burns and other injuries sustained in an attack on his presidential compound in June.

He said he had undergone more than eight "successful operations" at a hospital in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Saleh's appearance had changed dramatically. His face was darkened from severe burns suffered in the bombing and bandages were visible on his hands. He wore a red Saudi headdress - unusual for the Yemeni leader who always dressed in western-style suits.

Saleh gave no indication during his brief remarks that he plans to step down despite almost daily protests by government opponents during the past five months and growing international pressure on him to resign.

He criticized his detractors, saying they had an incorrect understanding of democracy. But he added that he supports dialogue among Yemen's various political entities, and welcomes power sharing "within the constitution."

After the speech, supporters throughout Yemen celebrated with fireworks and bursts of gunfire. A number of injuries were reported.

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