Rival Rallies Across Yemen After President Appears on TV

Posted July 8th, 2011 at 8:40 am (UTC-5)
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Thousands of Yemenis are rallying on Friday, a day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh made his first public appearance since traveling to Saudi Arabia to receive treatment for injuries.

Yemeni state-run television says pro-government rallies are underway in several cities while a Western news report says government opponents are holding rival demonstrations.

The nation remains in political paralysis with opponents demanding Mr. Saleh's immediate resignation and Mr. Saleh showing no signs of vacating office.

On Thursday, Mr. Saleh delivered a taped video message from Saudi Arabia, where he is receiving treatment for burns and other injuries sustained in an attack on his presidential compound in June.

He said he had undergone more than eight “successful operations” at a hospital in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

His appearance had changed dramatically. His face was darkened from severe burns suffered in the bombing and bandages were visible on his hands. He wore a red Saudi headdress – unusual for the Yemeni leader who always dressed in western-style suits.

Mr. Saleh gave no indication during his brief remarks that he plans to step down despite almost daily protests by government opponents during the past five months and growing international pressure on him to resign.

He criticized his detractors, saying they had an incorrect understanding of democracy. But he added that he supports dialogue among Yemen's various political entities, and welcomes power sharing “within the constitution.”

After the speech, supporters throughout Yemen celebrated with fireworks and bursts of gunfire. A number of injuries were reported.