Yemeni regime accused of ‘massacres’ to derail deal

April 30, 2011 - 0:0

SANAA (AFP) – Yemen's opposition on Thursday accused embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime of “massacring” peaceful protesters in a bid to derail a Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) transition plan.

A day after 14 protesters were killed across Yemen, the Joint Forum, a coalition of opposition parties, condemned what it termed “a savage massacre committed by the authorities and the militia of the ruling family against peaceful demonstrators.”
The U.S. embassy in Sanaa said the upsurge in violence on the eve of a power transfer deal was “especially disturbing” and urged all sides to act with restraint.
At the same time, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was concerned y the deadly violence, reiterating a call on authorities to protect civilians and welcoming efforts toward a peaceful transition, his spokesman said.
Ban appealed “to all concerned in Yemen to exercise utmost restraint and desist from provocative acts.”
He emphasized that “broadly inclusive political dialogue and mutual understanding are critically important for overcoming the current crisis and preserving the country's unity and integrity.”
Sanaa was the scene of the deadliest violence on Wednesday as troops opened fire to break up protests, killing 13 people and wounding more than 130, medical officials said. Another person was killed in southern Yemen.
Some protesters said they were attacked with daggers, which are traditionally worn in Yemen, while regime officials said “tens of supporters of the government” were also wounded.
“This massacre shows that the regime is determined to continue with the bloodshed and defeat the agreement” initiated by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, said the Forum.
The Forum warned that it would be difficult for them to go ahead with the planned signing of the transition agreement in Riyadh in coming days unless the crackdown was ended.
Amnesty called for an urgent independent investigation into Wednesday's killings as protesters marched past a stadium.
“Men, who are believed to have been members of the security forces or militant government supporters, reportedly fired from rooftops and from inside the stadium,” it said.
Security forces had “stood by and taken no action as the attacks were being perpetrated ... Their failure to act ... suggests strongly the security forces were complicit or, at the very least, acquiesced in the attack.”
Amnesty said the plan proposed by Yemen's oil-rich Arab neighbors in the Persian Gulf appeared to provide blanket immunity to Saleh as well as his regime.
“President Ali Abdullah Saleh must not be allowed to evade accountability for the long catalogue of human rights crimes committed under his rule,” it said.
“He must not be awarded a 'get-out-of-jail' card to walk free from any question of investigation or justice for what has been done under his authority,” Amnesty said.
PGCC foreign ministers aim to finalize the transition plan at a meeting in Riyadh on Sunday.
The plan by the six-nation PGCC proposes the formation of a government of national unity, Saleh transferring power to his vice president and an end to the deadly protests rocking the impoverished country since late January.
The president would submit his resignation to parliament within 30 days, to be followed two months later by a presidential election.
However, a defiant Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years, has publicly insisted on sticking to the constitution in any transfer of power, even though his ruling General People's Congress party has said it accepts the PGCC plan.
Demonstrations calling for the veteran leader's immediate ouster have cost more than 145 lives over the past three months.