(REUTERS – 23RD APRIL) Two months after presidential elections that aimed to end more than one year of violence, protesters in Yemen returned to Taghyeer (Change) Square in the capital — the tented epicentre of Yemen’s uprising — demanding restructuring of the armed and security forces currently led by loyalists to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Thousands protested following Friday prayers (April 20) and more took to the streets on Saturday (April 21) to demand reform and putting Saleh’s family on trial.
Protesters chanted and waved the Yemeni flag in a demonstration under the banner of “Trial for a rebellious, gangster family”.
“Our presence in the square will continue until the demands of the revolution, which we went out for in February of last year, are met,” protester Abdulwali Salem told Reuters.
Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi, who had served as Saleh’s deputy, took power in February after standing as the only candidate in a presidential election, part of a deal negotiated by Yemen’s Gulf neighbours for Saleh to step down after 33 years in power.
Under the power transfer deal, Hadi was tasked with reunifying the army, which had split during the year-long uprising against Saleh’s rule, with some units openly siding with protesters.
But many Yemenis feel little change has taken place.
“People are feeling the political solution is some sort of game intended to save Ali Abdullah Saleh, which is why people see that as long as Ali Abdullah Saleh’s family and his loyalists are still in control and he behaves as though he is still president, then why should people go back to their homes?” said protester Khaled al-Ansi.
“The revolution did not happen just to remove Ali Abdullah Saleh, the revolution happened to topple an entire regime. We shall remain until all remnants of the regime, family members (Saleh’s family) and Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, are gone,” said another protester, Yasser al-Hassani.
Sanaa was at the forefront of massive anti-Saleh protests for almost a year. The protests often erupted into fighting between Saleh’s forces on the one hand, and army deserters and protesters on the other.