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Yemen president says opposition march violates peace deal

Arab World Materials 25 December 2011 00:23 (UTC +04:00)
Yemen's outgoing president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Saturday said the mass protest at his being granted immunity from prosecution was a violation of a Gulf-brokered power transfer deal.
Yemen president says opposition march violates peace deal

Yemen's outgoing president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Saturday said the mass protest at his being granted immunity from prosecution was a violation of a Gulf-brokered power transfer deal, dpa reported.

At least eight people were killed in an attack on the rally in the capital Sana'a, medical and opposition sources said.

"This march is the biggest violation of the Gulf initiative," Saleh told reporters in Sana'a a few hours after the opposition accused his troops of attacking the protesters.

The Gulf-brokered agreement between Saleh and opposition leaders was signed in Saudi Arabia in November.

Dozens were injured when the troops, supported by pro-government militia, cracked down on the protesters who had arrived in Sana'a after a four-day march from the southern city of Taiz.

The attackers fired live ammunition and tear gas at the protesters to prevent them from marching to the presidential palace in Sana'a, witnesses said.

"Forces of the Republican Guards attacked part of the march and also clashed with tribesmen from Khalwan district in Sana'a, who were trying to protect the rally," Ziyazan, a protester who came from Taiz, told dpa.

The elite Republican Guards are commanded by Saleh's son, Ahmed.

The estimated 3,000 people taking part in the "March of life" trekked 255 kilometres, setting off from Taiz on Wednesday.

They were marching to condemn the immunity granted to Saleh, under the deal, in return for his relinquishing power. Saleh has ruled Yemen for 33 years.

Saleh said Saturday he would leave soon for the United States to allow the country's interim government to "prepare well" for an early presidential election, which is scheduled to be held in February.

The UAE-based al-Khaleej newspaper reported Saturday that Saleh would seek medical treatment in the US. He was wounded in June in an attack on the presidential palace.

But he told reporters: "I am in fine health. I am not going for medical treatment. I want to keep away from the public sight for some time, but I will return."

The presidential election is to be held as part of the deal aimed at ending the unrest in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country that began with anti-government protests earlier this year.

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