Yemenis not done with Saleh yet
Government troops opened fire on 100,000 protestors demanding that the outgoing President, Ali Abdullah Saleh not be granted immunity in the deal that would send him into retirement.
The protesters were attacked as they entered the capital Sanaa after marching for four days from Taiz, a city that has been a major opposition center 170 miles to the south. The first of its kind protest was called the March of Life and aimed to put pressure on the country's new government not to grant Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity from prosecution.
The violence underlined the continuing turmoil in Yemen even after Saleh signed a U.S.- and Saudi-backed deal last month by which he handed his powers to his vice president and committed to step down completely in return for immunity.
Protesters who rallied by the thousands for the past nine months rejected the deal, demanding Saleh be tried for his bloody crackdown on their movement.
At the same time, Saleh has seemed to continue to exercise influence through his relatives and loyalists still in their positions, even after Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi formed a unity government between the opposition and ruling party. Forces loyal to Saleh have defied orders to withdrew from the streets of Sanaa after a deadline was reached Saturday to do so.
The marchers Saturday were met by a force from the Republican Guard, which is commanded by Saleh's son, and Central Security forces, led by Saleh's nephew, backed by tanks on the southern entrance to Sanaa, witnesses said. Troops fired to disperse the crowd, who responded by throwing stones.
Saleh isn't going quietly and is hoping to wait out the protestors in order to continue to wield influence with the government. But the protestors aren't done with him yet and there is still a sizable force of rebels who are making life difficult for Saleh loyalist forces.
Saleh's continued role as power behind the throne should not come as a surprise. Four times in the last year he promised to retire or leave the country, only to reneg on those promises time and time again. It appears the only way he will truly be out of the hair of Yemeni citizens is when he is carried off feet first.
That may occur sooner rather than later.