More than 20,000 Yemenis filled the streets of Sanaa on Thursday for a "Day of Rage" rally, demanding a change in government and saying President Ali Abdullah Saleh's offer to step down in 2013 was not enough.
Further anti-government protests were expected across Yemen, which Saleh has ruled for over three decades, and supporters of the president were driving around the capital urging Yemenis over loudspeakers to join pro-government counterdemonstrations.
But by early morning, anti-government protesters had already gathered the largest crowd since a wave of protests hit the Arabian Peninsula state two weeks ago, inspired by protests that toppled Tunisia's ruler and threaten Egypt's president.
"The people want regime change," protesters shouted as they gathered outside Sanaa University. "No to corruption, no to dictatorship."
(Supporters of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh gather around a car carrying his posters in Sanaa February 2.)
Saleh, eyeing the unrest spreading in the Arab world, indicated on Wednesday he would leave office when his term ends in 2013, and promised his son would not take over the reins of government, among a host of other political concessions.
Wael Mansour, an organiser of the Thursday rally, said Yemenis were not satisfied with Saleh's concessions.
"Today will bring more, fresh pressure on President Saleh, who will have to present further concessions to the opposition," he said, without specifying what those concessions might be.
But, U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned Saleh to express support for his initiative, the state news agency Saba said. "You have handled the situation well, and I look forward to working with you in a good partnership between the two countries," it quoted Obama as saying.
The United States relies heavily on Saleh in its so-called campaign against fighters supposed to be in the region.
Last Mod: 03 Şubat 2011, 14:01