Middle East

Yemen opposition to step up protests

pirhayati20110308080820343Yemen’s opposition have pledged to escalate protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, which is being asked countrywide to step down.

“The protesters are studying several options for an escalation,” Mohammed al-Sabry, a leading member of the Common Forum opposition collation, said on Monday.

They plan to organize “a day when all Yemenis will take to the streets, a ‘Friday of No Return’ protest, and other options,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

Protests began to sweep the impoverished Arab state in January. Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds more have been injured in crackdown by security forces.

Thousands of demonstrators have set up tents in major Yemeni cities, standing their ground even at night.

Monday also witnessed protests at the main prison of the capital, Sana’a. Police used batons and fired warning shots to disperse the inmates.

Saleh has already been in office for 33 years with several opposition members arguing that his long-promised reforms have not materialized.

The country’s opposition and religious figures have envisioned a roadmap for the president’s departure before the end of this year.

The head of state, however, has said he would stay in power until the end of his term in 2013.

Some 40 percent of the Yemen’s population lives on less than USD2 a day or less, and a third is wrestling with chronic hunger.

There are also concerns that intermittent skirmishes between anti-government demonstrators and forces loyal to embattled Ali Abdullah Saleh could eventually spiral out of control and spill into large-scale violence.

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