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Deadly Protests Continue In Yemen Despite Power Transfer

Protestors gesture during a demonstration demanding the prosecution of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa on Friday.
Hani Mohammed
Protestors gesture during a demonstration demanding the prosecution of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa on Friday.

Protesters headed to the streets and snipers opened fire in Taiz, Yemen today. As The New York Times puts it, the clashes "threatened a day-old cease-fire agreement" and threw into question whether a power transfer agreed to by Yemen's president in November would mean much for the country.

The Times describes the scene:

"Several people who participated in the demonstration said uniformed government soldiers in armored vehicles stopped a morning march as it reached a traffic circle at the edge of the al-Haseb neighborhood. The protesters said gunmen in buildings above then opened fire, killing a 20-year-old student, Ruwaya al-Shaybani, who friends said had been a regular at the protests here, and injuring at least seven others.

"The killing threatened to reignite days of bloody clashes between government forces and tribesmen supportive of the protesters. Over three days last week, at least 18 people were killed as government forces shelled neighborhoods, responding to what officials claimed was a bid to take over the city by the tribesmen.

"And it cast a shadow over the recent agreement by the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for 33 years, to hand over power to his deputy. Antigovernment activists say ongoing violence by Mr. Saleh's security forces raised doubts about his commitment to the agreement: the day after it was signed, pro-government thugs killed at least five protesters in Sana, the capital."

The AFP spoke to protesters who said they were still on the streets because they were doubtful Saleh would implement the deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Al Jazeera reports that there has been violence across the country, today. In Zinjibar, government forces killed four during a shelling they said was provoked by the protesters.

The network adds that the outlines of the power-transfer deal are already showing signs of strain. Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Basindwa, an opposition leader charged with establishing a coalition government, told Al Jazeera that "he would rethink his commitments under the deal if fighting in Taiz did not stop."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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