Thousands of Yemenis protest in capital Sanaa over immunity deal for president


Thousands of Yemenis have taken to the streets of the capital Sanaa in protest against a law granting President Ali Abdullah Saleh full immunity from prosecution over his government’s vicious crackdown during a year-long uprising.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators demanded the president be put on trial and executed for crimes they say he committed during his 33 years in power, the AFP reported.

Protesters in Sanaa’s Change Square, the focal point of the democracy movement that has been calling for Saleh’s removal since January last year, chanted “it is our duty… to execute the butcher.”

Yesterday, Yemen’s parliament approved a bill granting Saleh full and irrevocable immunity from prosecution for any acts committed since seizing power in 1978 in return for his stepping down and leaving the country, under a deal brokered by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

More from GlobalPost: Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh granted immunity 

Today protesters sported banners urging parliamentarians to reverse their decision to adopt the law, according to the BBC. Demonstrators attempted to march to the US embassy in Sanaa, but were halted by Yemeni security forces. 

Protesters were also furious at remarks made on Friday by a Middle East diplomat involved in discussions regarding Saleh’s future, who indicated that the president planned to travel to the US for medical treatment but would not leave Yemen permanently, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, protesting troops at Sanaa’s main airport shut down runways with armored vehicles today, demanding the ouster of Saleh’s brother Maj. Gen. Mohammed Saleh, who is commander of Yemen’s air force, according to the Associated Press.

More from GlobalPost: In UN plan for Yemen, Yemenis are left out

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