Yemeni general backs democracy protesters

Yemeni general backs democracy protesters

A Yemeni army officer holds aloft his AK-47 as he and other officers join anti-government protesters demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sana’a,Yemen, on Monday. AP

General Ali Mohsen, a powerful figure close to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, expressed support for pro-democracy 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 Sana’a 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.

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

“Repressing peaceful demonstrators in public areas around the country has led to a cycle of crises which is getting more complicated each day and pushing the country towards civil war,” the general added.