Monday, April 18, 2011

Ex-ministers break with Yemeni president

Former members of Yemen's ruling party form new bloc to support protests against Ali Abdullah Saleh's decades-long rule.

(Al Jazeera) - Members of Yemen's ruling party including three former ministers formed a new bloc to support protests against the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president.

The new party, called the Justice and Development Bloc, opposes the suppression of protests and is demanding an end to Saleh's 32-year rule, Mohammed Abu Lahoum, its leader, said on Monday.

The protests, inspired by uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia, are now in their third month and bring tens of thousands of people onto the streets almost every day demanding an end to endemic poverty and corruption. Scores of protesters have been killed.

At least 88 people were wounded on Monday in the Red Sea port of Hudaida as plain clothes police fired bullets and tear gas at protesters, who responded by hurling stones, witnesses and doctors said.

Yemen's protests are in their third month and bring
tens of thousands onto the streets almost every day [Reuters]
After years of backing Saleh as a bulwark against regional instability and the activities of al-Qaeda's active Yemeni branch, Saudi Arabia and the United States are now pressing him to negotiate with the opposition on handing over power.

The new Justice and Development Bloc includes former ministers for tourism, human rights and transport from the ruling party, and a number of members of parliament, who joined a stream of former officials who have already deserted Saleh.

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