News / Middle East

Tens of Thousands of Yemenis Call for Saleh's Sons to Leave Yemen

Anti-government protesters flash the victory sign during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abduallah Saleh, in Taiz, Yemen, Sunday, June 26, 2011.
Anti-government protesters flash the victory sign during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abduallah Saleh, in Taiz, Yemen, Sunday, June 26, 2011.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have rallied in the capital, Sana'a, and other cities to demand that the two powerful sons of wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh leave the country.

Mr. Saleh has been hospitalized in Saudi Arabia since suffering severe wounds in a June 3 attack on his palace, but his sons have retained control of powerful military units, maintaining their father's grip on power.

Many of the opposition activists who marched Sunday chanted slogans calling on Mr. Saleh's sons and other members of his inner circle to get out of Yemen. The eldest son, Ahmed, commands the Yemeni military's elite Republican Guard, while his brother, Khaled, heads a special forces division.

Mr. Saleh has refused to step down despite months of almost daily nationwide protests demanding an end to his 33-year autocratic rule. His deputy, Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur Hadi, has come under pressure from the opposition and Western powers to begin an immediate transition of power to a democratic system of government.

Yemeni officials said Sunday Mr. Saleh is in "good health." It is unclear when or if he will return to Yemen.

In his absence, the Yemeni military has continued fighting Islamist militants who took control of the southern city of Zinjibar late last month. Yemeni officials say government warplanes struck militant targets Sunday in Abyan province, of which Zinjibar is the capital.

The targets included a regional government headquarters seized by the insurgents.

Officials say the fighting killed at least six militants and two Yemeni soldiers.

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