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High tension in Yemen amid rival rallies

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High tension in Yemen amid rival rallies


Pro- and anti-presidential demonstrators have poured into Yemen’s capital in their hundreds of thousands, a week after a rally there ended in mass bloodshed.

In a rousing speech to his supporters, veteran leader Ali Abdullah Saleh said he was ready to hand over power but only to what he called “safe hands.”

This was a chance for Saleh to show he can still command support, including within the military. A number of senior officers have defected to the rebel camp in recent days.

Elsewhere in Sanaa, protesters encamped outside the university repeated demands for him to quit now on what they have dubbed a “Day of Departure.”

One of the demonstrators, Sadek Ahmad Hammad Albokhari, said: “We are asking the president to leave and give up his authority to prevent bloodshed. The people will continue to rebel until the regime falls.”

A week after anti-government rallies ended in dozens of deaths, soldiers fired shots in the air to prevent a confrontation between the two sides. Earlier, talks between President Saleh and a dissident general reportedly ended in stalemate.

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