Yemen president sacks cabinet, crowds bury 'martyrs'

Subscribe to Oneindia News

Yemen flag
Sanaa, Mar 20: Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh sacked his government today as mourners massed in Sanaa to bury many of the 52 people gunned down by his loyalists, and more regime figures quit over the killings.

Tens of thousands of people turned out for the funerals in what witnesses said was the biggest gathering of Saleh's opponents since protests against his autocratic regime erupted in late Jan.

About 30 bodies were laid out in rows, and the square near Sanaa University overflowed with mourners who gathered under tight security and despite the state of emergency.

On Friday pro-Saleh snipers raked demonstrators in the square with bullets from surrounding rooftops, in an attack which more than doubled the death toll from several weeks of unrest to around 80.

The violence drew condemnation from the United Nations, the European Union and the United States, which sees Saleh as a key partner in battling al-Qaeda in the region.

Saleh suffered a further blow with the resignation today of Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Alsaidi, and human rights minister Huda al-Baan in protest at the deadly attacks on demonstrators.

"Abdullah Alsaidi has submitted his resignation to protest at the use of violence against demonstrators," a foreign ministry official said.

The defections add to a long list of resignations, including two other ministers and 23 MPs who have ripped up their membership of Saleh's ruling party. In an apparent attempt to placate the opposition the president sacked his government today.

"The president has dismissed the government but asked the cabinet to remain in a caretaker position until a new one is formed," the official Saba news agency reported.

Waving Yemeni flags and shouting slogans denouncing the regime, the mourners formed a massive procession as they carried the bodies in coffins on their shoulders to the cemetery.

"Ali, the blood of the martyrs will not be in vain," they chanted, referring to Saleh.

"The president gave the orders to shoot," said Ahmad, one of the mourners. Ali Abed Rabbo al-Qadi, the head of the independent parliamentary bloc who was in the crowd, said those responsible for the killings must be "held responsible for every drop of blood that has been shed."

Leading Muslim clerics called on Yemeni soldiers to disobey orders to fire at demonstrators, and blamed Saleh -- in power since 1978 -- for the slaughter on Friday.

AFP

Please Wait while comments are loading...