Protesters march from Taiz to Sana’a
TAIZ, Dec 21 – Anti-regime protesters are marching on foot from Taiz to Sana’a, calling for Ali Abdullah Saleh to be prosecuted.
They set out on Tuesday, arriving in Ibb governorate, 63km north of Taiz by nightfall. They left Taiz yesterday morning and are expected to reach the capital on Friday.
The march of more than 3,000 people will keep going until the protesters reach Sana’a – a distance of 256km.
However the march, which includes women, may encounter problems on route.
Saleh’s ruling GPC party took the idea and sent its own people in the opposite direction from Sana’a to Taiz in support for the immunity given to Saleh by the power transfer deal he signed in Riyadh on November 23.
Ironically, a similar march took place in the 1970s, also from Taiz. It called on Saleh – who at the time was military leader of Taiz – to lead Yemen following chaos after the assassination of the late president of North Yemen, Ibraheem Al-Hamdi.
“We have now walked 63km on our way to Sana’a,” Rabee Al-Junaid, one of the participants, told the Yemen Times before they set out again on Wednesday. “Dozens of other protesters in Ibb have joined us and a restaurant on the road provided us with free meals in support of the march.”
Seven participants are suffering muscle strain from the walk while some people’s feet have been bleeding.
“We expect to arrive in Sana’a after another three days since we still have 193km left to walk,” said Al-Junaid.
“But we fear clashes with another march organized by Saleh’s supporters coming from Sana’a to Taiz who we might meet in Dhamar.”
The Defense Ministry announced the march by Saleh supporters on Tuesday morning – the same day the anti-Saleh protesters set out from Taiz.
Taiz has been a key city for the youth revolution calling for the removal of Saleh after 33 years in power.
Nationwide protests erupted in February this year and protesters are still camping in squares after more than ten months, despite a power transfer deal for Saleh to step down. They reject the Gulf plan, which grants immunity to Saleh and his regime, even though hundreds of peaceful protesters lost their lives in a series of bloody government crackdowns.
The march came as media reports leaked the news that parliament, which is still sitting despite a massive boycott by opposition members and defectors, is working to draft Saleh’s immunity law with a vote in the coming days.
Yemeni female activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Tawakul Karman, has been lobbying in the west to refer Saleh to the International Criminal Court and to freeze his assets.