Yemenis pay tribute to killed protesters

Sanaa, April 01: Tens of thousands of Yemenis have once again taken to the streets to pay tribute to those killed in anti-regime protests as more soldiers defect to the opposition.

The anti-regime protesters on Thursday thronged the streets of capital Sana’a marching toward Change Square to commemorate dozens of people killed in weeks of protests and called for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Tens of thousands also took to the streets in the town of Ibb, 190 kms southwest of Sana’a, calling for Saleh’s ouster.

Saleh, who has ruled with an iron-fist for 32 years, has been refusing to step down as demanded by the protesters. Opposition groups complain that the government has failed to meet the basic needs of the country’s 23 million people.

They said that he must be tried for mass murder of anti-government protesters. Nearly 100 protesters have been killed since the uprising began in Yemen in mid-February, of which 52 alone were killed on March 18.

They also called for fresh protests on Friday.

Meanwhile, a large number of soldiers, politicians as well as top military, religious and tribal figures have joined the protests calling for the ouster of President Saleh.

Defections from Saleh’s regime have multiplied since a bloodbath in Sana’a on March 18 when protesters were gunned down by Saleh loyalists. Around 20 new army officers on Thursday also joined the protesters, who carried banners calling for the “peaceful ouster” of the regime, AFP said.

They called for a six-month transition period during which parliament would be dissolved, the constitution amended, and an interim committee tasked with running the country’s affairs.