Continuing anti-government protests has brought tens of thousands of people to the capital of Yemen, again demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, one day after he proposed the formation of a new unity government which would include opposition members.
Opposition groups have rejected Saleh’s proposals as too little too late.
Mohammed al-Qubati, a spokesman for a coalition of opposition parties, said: “I stress that this invitation comes too late and is no longer feasible. What is required now to meet the people’s demands is the regime leaving and for authority to meet the will of the people,” he said.
Protesters chanted Leave! at Saleh and also protested the deaths of about two dozen anti-government demonstrators by Saleh loyalists since the revolt began. Most of those killings reportedly occurred in the southern port city of Aden.
Saleh has, in turn, blamed the U.S. and Israel for fomenting the turmoil in Yemen and across the Middle East.
The events from Tunisia to Oman are a storm orchestrated from Tel Aviv and under Washington's supervision, Saleh told reporters in the capitol Sanaa, according to Agence France Presse.
What is taking place on Yemen's streets is just a copycat attempt, as Yemen is not Tunisia or Egypt and the Yemeni people are different.”
Saleh also accused the US president of interfering in the Middle East.
Mr Obama, you're the president of the United States; you're not the president of the Arab world, he said.
The Yemeni weekly Al-Masdar reported that demonstrators also rallied in the towns of Taiz, Ibb and al-Bayda.
Saleh has been a strong ally of the U.S. in its strategy against al-Qaeda terrorism – thus his direct criticism of Washington came as somewhat of a surprise. He has been in power since 1978 and has offered to step down in 2013, when his current presidential term to set to expire.
Among the protesters was Sheik Abdul Majid al-Zindani, a radical cleric accused by the U.S. of being connected to al-Qaeda. Zindani has called for the replacement of the current regime in Yemen with an Islamic state.
“An Islamic state is coming,” he told the crowd, adding that Saleh “came to power by force, and stayed in power by force, and the only way to get rid of him is through the force of the people.”
Since 2004, Zindani, has been on the U.S. Treasury list of “specially designated global terrorists” suspected of raising money for Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has warned Saleh against enacting a violent crackdown against protesters.
People have the legitimate right to express their grievances and demands to their government, Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.
We have seen over and over again in the past few weeks that violent responses, in breach of international law, do not make the protesters go away and only serve to exacerbate their frustration and anger.”