Yemeni police disperse protesters as opposition agrees to resume talks
Source: BI-ME with AFP , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Mon February 14, 2011 12:46 am
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YEMEN. The Yemeni opposition agreed on Sunday to resume talks suspended since October with the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the target of post-Tunisian revolution protests calling for his ouster.

The Common Forum, an alliance of parliamentary opposition groups, is "ready to sign a framework agreement this week ... on (resuming) the national dialogue," it said, in a statement received by AFP.

It said the draft deal calls for the formation of a unity government and the inclusion in the dialogue of the secessionist Southern Movement, the Shiite rebels of northern Yemen, and opposition members in exile.

Talks would resume from the point at which they were suspended on October 31, said the Common Forum, grouping Al-Islah (Reform), which is Yemen's main Islamist opposition, the Yemeni Socialist Party and other smaller factions.

"We urge the authorities to learn a lesson from what happened in Tunisia and Egypt," where massive revolts by the people forced out their respective leaders, it said.

The opposition warned of a "popular uprising" in Yemen, a country they said is weighed down by "corruption, poverty, unemployment, repression, injustice and tyranny."

Egypt- and Tunisia-style protests have been held in Yemen since mid-January calling for Saleh to step down.

On Sunday, anti-riot police used batons to disperse a protest by an estimated 2,000 demonstrators in Sanaa, injuring a woman and making 10 arrests, according to witnesses.

Police also used batons in the southern city of Taez to break up a protest in the main square, arresting 120 demonstrators, participants told AFP.

The Common Forum urged Saleh to prove his goodwill by dismissing his family members and relatives holding top posts in institutions such as the Yemeni army, police, government and regional councils.

Under opposition pressure to stand down, Saleh, in power for 32 years, announced on February 2 a freezing of constitutional amendments that could have seen him president for life and promised that his son would not succeed him.

The president also put off controversial a plan to hold an April election without a promised dialogue on reform and has appealed for an end to street protests.

Elected to a seven-year term in September 2006, Saleh has urged the opposition to resume dialogue aimed at forging a government of national unity.

The current parliament's term was extended by two years to April under a February 2009 agreement between the ruling General People's Congress and the opposition to allow time for dialogue on political reform.

But the talks have stalled since the government decided to hold a legislative election on April 27 without waiting for the dialogue process to run its course. A special committee set up to oversee reform has met only once.

Besides poverty and unemployment in one of the world's poorest country, Saleh's government is grappling a secessionist movement in the south, rebellion in the north, and a regrouping of Al-Qaeda on its soil.

 

MIDDLE EAST BUSINESS COMMENT & ANALYSIS

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