Yemenis Stage Rival Demos despite Saleh Exit Deal
Thousands of Yemenis held rival rallies across Sanaa on Friday despite President Ali Abdullah Saleh's agreement to quit and a military panel continuing to lift barricades from the streets, witnesses said.
Thousands of protesters gathered at Sittin Avenue in Sanaa's northern district calling for the trial of Saleh and all those involved in the killing of 13 people in last week's "March for Life," in which protesters walked from the flashpoint city of Taez to the capital.
A smaller number of protesters gathered for the weekly Muslim Friday prayers at Sabiin Avenue in the capital's southern district responding to calls by Saleh's General People's Congress party.
"The March for Life was an umbrella (used by the opposition) to bring in militias from Taez to take over Sanaa's southern district," which has remained under the control of Saleh's forces throughout the uprising, preacher Yehya al-Qulaisi told the pro-Saleh gathering.
The deputy leader of the ruling General People's Congress, Sultan al-Barakani, said: "If they (the opposition) do not stop calling for marching towards Sabiin Avenue and the parliament, we will return to block zero."
"It's enough that we accepted that the president who was elected quit," he added.
Saleh is still honorary president but handed authority over to his deputy last month when he signed a Gulf-brokered deal in which he won immunity from prosecution in exchange for ending his 33-year rule when polls are held in February
Angry youths have staged defiant protests against the plan, insisting on Saleh's trial and the ouster of all members of his regime, despite a bloody backlash by the strongman's forces and loyalists that has seen hundreds of them killed.
"Our path is clear and we will continue until the aims of the revolt are achieved," leading activist Walid al-Amari told Agence France Presse.