By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Saturday, January 29, 2011
DUBAI: Yemen’s president has complained to Qatar over satellite channel Al-Jazeera’s coverage of unrest in his country, where thousands of protesters took to the streets Thursday to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
“What the channel is doing only serves the Zionist entity and terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda as well as the enemies of the Arabs seeking to ignite dissent,” Saleh said, according to Yemen’s state news agency Saba.
Saleh asked Qatar’s emir to urge Al-Jazeera to stop what he described as incitement, exaggeration and distortion. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera, whose spokesman could not be reached for comment, aired pictures of streets crammed with protesters in Yemen.
Sanaa was quiet Friday despite reports that the protesters would stage another rally after the weekly Muslim prayers and the situation was normal for a Friday, a weekly holiday in Yemen, with no visible extra police deployment, an AFP reporter said.
Saleh, who has been president for decades, was re-elected in September 2006 for a seven-year mandate. A draft amendment of the Constitution, under discussion in Parliament despite opposition protests, could allow him – if passed – to remain in office for life.
Slogans chanted during Thursday’s protest in Sanaa were firm in demanding Saleh’s departure. “No to extending [presidential tenure]. No to bequeathing [the presidency],” chanted protesters, insisting it was “time for change.”
Security measures at the protests appeared relaxed, but were tight around the Interior Ministry and the Central Bank.
Meanwhile, Saleh’s ruling GPC organized four simultaneous counter-protests which were attended by thousands of the government’s backers. “No to toppling democracy and the Constitution,” Saleh’s supporters said on their banners. – Reuters, AFP