Sanaa, Feb 17 (IANS): At least two protesters have died of gunshot wounds during clashes with police in southern Yemen as anti-government rallies spread across the country.
Besides the two deaths reported in the southern port city of Aden, 14 people were injured in the nationwide protests Wednesday that echoed those in Tunisia, Egypt and some other Middle East countries, Xinhua reported.
On Wednesday, protesters threw stones at and scuffled with government supporters, while police fired warning shots and pointed rifles at the demonstrators in an attempt to disperse the crowds.
“People want the regime to fall… People want President (Ali Abdullah) Saleh and his family to leave,” chanted the protesters, mostly complaining about joblessness, depressed economy and corruption.
“Rampant official corruption has been destroying the country and we, the Yemeni people, need the changes and revolution badly,” Hamoud Najee, a protester, said.
On Sunday, the opposition coalition agreed to enter a national dialogue with the ruling party and stop organising protests, but demanded that Saleh must step down in 2013 as he promised.
Meanwhile, the opposition insisted that all the president’s family members be removed from top military and security posts, including his son Ahmed Ali, who was widely believed to become the next president.
Demonstrations organised by students, lawyers and the unemployed are gaining momentum.
“Demonstrations have been doubled in the capital Sanaa and southern provinces of Taiz, al-Dhalee, Aden, Abyan and Shabwa since Egypt’s uprising forced the resignation of (Hosni) Mubarak Feb 11,” Nabil al-Bukairy, a Sanaa-based researcher, told Xinhua.
Saleh decided to open his office Monday to hear opinions from the public, in one of a series of concessions he made to tame the spreading chaos in the country and to appease his opponents.
Earlier this month, Saleh, who is in power for 33 years, said at a high-level emergency meeting that he would not pursue re-election or pass power to his son and would also freeze all the controversial constitutional amendments that allow him to be president for life.
The embattled president also pledged to raise salaries of government employees and to provide 60,000 job opportunities for university graduates.