Rival Rallies in Yemen Following President’s Speech

Posted July 8th, 2011 at 2:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Thousands of Yemenis turned out for rival demonstrations on Friday, a day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh made his first public appearance since being injured in a June attack.

Pro-government rallies took place in several cities, including the capital Sana'a, where the Associated Press says Mr. Saleh's supporters gathered outside of his vacant presidential palace.

Meanwhile, thousands of government opponents renewed calls for the president's departure.

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

He criticized his detractors, saying they had an incorrect understanding of democracy. Mr. Saleh gave no indication during his brief remarks that he plans to step down. This despite the almost daily protests by government opponents during the past five months and growing international pressure on him to resign.

The Yemeni leader also made his first public remarks about his treatment, saying he had undergone more than eight “successful operations” at a hospital in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

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