Global General

Yemeni general backs protesters

(China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-22 09:23
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Yemeni general backs protesters
An anti-government protestor displays the local currency as a symbol of poverty as he and others wait for the bodies of demonstrators killed in Friday's clashes in Sanaa, Yemen. [Photo/Agencies]

SANAA, Yemen - A top general threw his support behind protesters on Monday and warned Yemen could slip into civil war, after snipers shot dead dozens of demonstrators.

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General Ali Mohsen, a powerful figure close to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, expressed support for the protesters but stopped short of resigning or demanding that Saleh bring his 32-year rule to an immediate end.

"We announce our peaceful support for the peaceful revolution of the youth and their demands, and we carry out our duty ... in ensuring security and stability in the capital," Mohsen, commander of the northwest military zone, said on Al Jazeera television.

Friday's killings of 52 anti-government protesters by rooftop snipers in Sanaa prompted Saleh to declare a state of emergency for 30 days that restricts freedom of movement and the right to gather and gives police more powers to make arrests.

Saleh has said he will not run for re-election in 2013 and proposed political reforms including a new constitution in an effort to end weeks of protests. He fired his cabinet on Sunday.

"Yemen today faces a serious crisis ... as a result of unconstitutional and illegal practices by the authorities, a policy of marginalization and absence of justice," Mohsen said.