Thousands protest in Yemen as deal is deadlocked

AP News
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Posted: May 02, 2011 5:43 PM
Thousands protest in Yemen as deal is deadlocked

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of cities across Yemen on Monday to press the embattled president to step down after he balked at signing a deal by Arab mediators to end the impoverished nation's spiraling political crisis.

Security forces fired gunshots to disperse a crowd of protesters in the southern city of Aden, killing a bystander watching the march from his balcony, activist Wady al-Shaabi said. A woman on the street was hit in the shoulder and injured.

A deal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down appeared close to collapse after he said over the weekend he would have close aides sign it rather than doing so himself, leaving a deadlock that threatens to plunge the nation deeper into disorder and bloodshed.

At least 140 people have been killed in the government's crackdown on the protesters, who have nonetheless grown in number week after week.

The violence, which has included sniper attacks, has prompted several top military commanders, ruling party members, diplomats and others to defect to the opposition, largely isolating the president.

Defiant protesters marched through the streets of cities in southern, northern and eastern Yemen on Monday.

In the central city of Bayda, protesters called for Saleh to be tried and asked for the mediation deal proposed by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to be scrapped, said activist Mohammed al-Ameri.

The mediation plan put forward by Yemen's Gulf neighbors had called for Saleh to step down within 30 days and for a national unity government to run the country until elections are held. The proposals also gave Saleh immunity from prosecution.

Saleh declined Sunday to sign the deal at the last minute. The GCC countries said they will be sending an envoy to try to salvage the deal.