Yemenis rally for Saleh trial despite shootings


Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Yemen’s capital Sunday calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to face trial, a day after his forces and loyalists killed 13 people at a similar demonstration.
“The people want to bring the slaughterer to trial,” shouted the protesters who marched from Change Square, epicentre of the uprising that began nearly a year ago, towards Sittin Avenue in the northern district of Sanaa. “We won’t rest until the slaughterer is executed,” they chanted.
“We don’t want Abdrabuh, Ali Saleh controls him,” they chanted, referring to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi. Saleh is still honorary president but handed authority over to Hadi 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.
Saleh vows to leave: Saleh said late Saturday he would leave for the United States and give way to a successor, hours after his forces opened fire on unarmed protesters and killed 13. But he did not say when he would depart and vowed to play a political role again, this time opposed to a new government.
Saleh, who repeatedly backed out of the Gulf plan to nudge him from power said he would both let Yemen’s new government work, and oppose it. “I will go to the United States. Not for treatment, because I’m fine, but to get away from attention, cameras, and allow the unity government to prepare properly for elections,” he said. “I’ll be there for several days, but I’ll return because I won’t leave my people and comrades who have been steadfast for 11 months,” he said.
“I’ll withdraw from political work and go into the street as part of the opposition.” Angry youths have staged defiant protests against the plan, which is backed by the United Nations, despite a bloody backlash by Saleh’s forces and loyalists that has seen hundreds of them killed. But Saleh’s General People’s Congress party insisted on Sunday that the parliament would confirm the immunity deal.
“Measures will be taken to issue the immunity law as per the Gulf plan” after a parliamentary vote of confidence on the newly formed unity government expected this week, Sultan al-Barakani, who represents the GPC’s bloc in parliament, said.
The veteran leader said Saturday that he would soon visit the United States ahead of transferring power following a February 21 presidential election.
A diplomat from one of the countries that has sponsored the deal, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Saleh has presented “a list of 412 people” he wants the immunity deal to include. But Sunday’s protesters reject any such agreements. “No guarantee, no immunity to Saleh and to those close to him,” they shouted.
The protesters, backed by tens of thousands who were met by gunfire from Saleh’s forces and loyalists after they arrived on foot Saturday from the second-largest city Taez, called on Hadi to hand over those responsible for the violence to justice. Thirteen people were killed on Saturday when security forces and gunmen loyal to Saleh attacked their march in which they were calling for him to be put on trial.