Source: Reuters, 15/05/2011
SANAA- Plainclothes gunmen opened fire on protesters in the southern city of Taiz in Yemen on Saturday, wounding at least 15 people, witnesses said, while an envoy from a Persian Gulf regional group arrived to try to revive a plan to end the crisis.
Protesters have been demonstrating across Yemen for months to try to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh in an uprising inspired by movements that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. A plan negotiated by neighboring gulf states for Mr. Saleh to step down in exchange for immunity fell through last month when he refused to sign it.
The gunmen fired from rooftops on protesters who were demanding that Mr. Saleh end more than three decades of rule in the Arab world’s poorest country.
Security forces also arrested Ahmed al-Musaibli, a leading broadcaster who had left state television to work for an opposition satellite channel, witnesses said.
Mr. Saleh, a wily political survivor, has clung to power despite defections from politicians, army officers and tribal leaders.
The secretary general of the regional group, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdullatif al-Zayani, arrived in Sana for a three-day visit to try to resurrect the power-transfer deal, which the council brokered between Mr. Saleh and opposition leaders. Mr. Zayani was to meet with Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi on Saturday evening, a Yemeni official said.
Although the political opposition approved the deal, the street protesters never signed on. They rejected the plan’s 30-day transition period, arguing that Mr. Saleh was only stalling for time. The deal fell apart two weeks ago when Mr. Saleh made it clear that he would not sign the agreement as president, but as leader of the governing party.