Protests agains the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh continue unabated. Yesterday saw confrontations between pro-democracy and pro-regime supporters reminiscent of those in Egypt: the latter wore plainsclothes, but it wasn’t clear if they were government agents or authentic supporters, and acted with violence. Laura Kasinof reports:
SANA, Yemen — Pro-government demonstrators armed with sticks ran down rivals calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Salehon Friday in the capital, breaking up the show of dissent as the country’s turmoil went into an eighth day.
In the city of Taiz, 130 miles south of the capital, thousands of antigovernment protesters massed and clashed with government supporters, news reports said. Reuters reported that a grenade exploded in a large crowd of antigovernment protesters who had gathered in the city’s Hurriya, or Freedom, Square, camping out in emulation of Egyptian protesters who turned Cairo’s Tahrir Square into the center of their uprising. At least eight people were wounded in the blast, Reuters reported.
In what now seems a pattern, pro-government forces wearing traditional dress that prevails outside the capital routed antigovernment protesters as the police and army looked on. The demonstrators had been seeking to march to a mosque from the university. After they were dispersed, their foes, waving sticks aloft, celebrated with a victory parade.
As the protests stretched into a second week, opponents of Mr. Saleh appeared divided. A formal coalition of opposition parties organized earlier demonstrations that extracted concessions from him, including a pledge to stand down in 2013. For the moment they appear content to push for greater concessions under that timetable.
But a younger cohort of opponents is pressing for Mr. Saleh’s earlier departure, organizing their resistance — as elsewhere — using cell phone text messages and Facebook.
Southern secessionists have also renewed their protests in the port city of Aden, where demonstrations have been notably more violent. One protester, about 20 years old, was said to have been shot to death in battles with the police on Wednesday, according to reports from the city, as hundreds took to the streets in several neighborhoods.
Though Yemen’s southern secessionists have also sought inspiration from a regional wave of protests their demand for independence is longstanding and their goals differ from those of the students protesting against Mr. Saleh in Sana and other areas, including Taiz, which is not part of the area that secessionists have claimed.