Conflict & Justice

Yemen protesters call for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand trial, denounce government


A Yemeni anti-government protester holds a drawing calling for the trial of President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a demonstration in Sanaa. On October 8, 2011, President Salah said he would give up power in the coming days.



Thousands of Yemeni citizens marched to the capital on Thursday, demanding that President Ali Abdullah Saleh face trial for the deaths of protesters over 11 months of demonstrations against him and denouncing the new government, Reuters reported.

"The goal is to bring down the regime and try its figures, to refuse giving Saleh and his aides any parliamentary immunity," said Waddah al-Adeeb, an organizer of the march which set out from the southern city of Taiz earlier this week, Reuters reported. "And we reject the unity government, because it just reproduces the regime itself," he said by telephone from some 100 km (62 miles) south of the capital Sanaa.

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Saleh is due to hand over power formally on Friday, although many fear that he will be leaving behind a country struggling to contain Al Qaeda-linked tribes, the Daily Telegraph reported. The United Nations endorsed a pact brokered by Yemen’s wealthier neighbors to prevent a civil war by easing Saleh from his position, Reuters reported.

Saleh is expected to receive medical treatment abroad for injuries suffered from an assassination attempt in June. Many have believed he would not step down this week, despite the peace deal he signed earlier this month. But due to his medical condition, he is now more likely to do so, the BBC reported. In the deal Saleh signed, he transferred power to Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Elections will be held in February.

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If Saleh does step down on Friday, he will be the fourth leader pushed out of his position by Arab Spring protests, after leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. For months, Saleh’s regime faced protests, and the UN estimates that hundreds of unarmed protesters were killed and thousands wounded, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Still, many protesters are angry that the deal signed doesn’t go far enough since it gives Saleh and his family immunity from prosecution. Jamal Benomar, UN special envoy to Yemen, said this is "a first step in a long road fraught with difficulties” for Yemen, the BBC reported.

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