Yemen defense minister to read statement soon on TV

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 12:21 PM
Yemen defense minister to read statement soon on TV

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's Defense Minister Mohammad Nasser Ali will read a statement soon on Yemen television about a wave of defections and resignations by top military officers and envoys, an official source said.

The official told Reuters the statement would indicate that the defections were illegal and against the constitution.

Top generals, ambassadors and some tribes threw their support behind Yemen's anti-government protesters on Monday in a major blow to President Ali Abdullah Saleh as he tries to survive growing demands for his immediate departure.

The defections and resignations were apparently sparked by Saleh's decision to resort to violence to deal with protests against his rule.

On Friday snipers killed 52 anti-government protesters in Sanaa, prompting Saleh to sack his cabinet and declare a state of emergency for 30 days that restricts freedom of movement and the right to gather and gives police more power of arrest.

(Editing by Patrick Graham)