SANAA: Defiant protesters today camped out in Yemen’s capital and second city of Taez demanded the President, Mr Ali Abdullah Saleh step down immediately, even after his ruling party accepted a 30-day exit plan.
“There is a consensus on rejecting the initiative” proposed by the Gulf Cooperation Council, said Mr Abdulmalik al-Yusufi, a leading activist at a sit-in demonstration in Sanaa’s University Square.
Mr Saleh’s General People’s Congress said late yesterday it has accepted the GCC proposal in its entirety, a decision promptly welcomed by Washington which urged all sides to “swiftly” implement a peaceful transfer of power.
The Gulf plan would see Mr Saleh submit his resignation to Parliament within 30 days, after forming a national unity government and handing power to his deputy.
A presidential vote would be held within two months. The Common Forum parliamentary opposition coalition also accepted the proposal, but said it would not take part in a government formed under Mr Saleh, indicating he should hand power before the cabinet is sworn in.
But protesters who have been in the streets since late January, demanding the departure of Mr Saleh and his regime, were not as open as the opposition.
Mr Yusufi said demonstrators camping out at University Square, which they have dubbed Change Square, staged a protest after midnight Saturday stressing their rejection of the plan.
“Down with the regime” and “Down with all parties,” they chanted.
“The Gulf initiative addresses the problem as if it was a political crisis between two parties… We have taken to the streets in a revolution that is demanding a comprehensive change,” Mr Yusufi said.
He charged that Mr Saleh, who has been in office since 1978, was a “liar and deceitful.”
Ahmed al-Wafi, another leading activist in Taez, Yemen’s second largest city and host to ongoing mass protests, also dismissed the latest statement by the GPC as an attempt to “buy time.”
“The youth will only accept an immediate departure of Saleh. They are not concerned by any negotiations,” he said, insisting that the parliamentary opposition will have to “follow the street stance.”
“We are staying in the squares and we have plans to escalate our protest peacefully,” he added.
He also pointed out that although people in Yemen are heavily armed, protesters have shown “great patience by facing the thugs of the regime peacefully.”
More than 130 people have been killed in clashes with security forces and president loyalists since protests broke out late January.