Yemeni President Vows to Stay, At Least 2 Dead in Protests

Followers of the Shi'ite Houthi group seek cover as soldiers open fire to disperse them near the cabinet building in Sanaa September 9, 2014. Yemeni soldiers opened fire on Shi'ite Muslim protesters trying to storm the cabinet building in the capital Sanaa on Tuesday, killing at least four, a Reuters photographer and medical sources said.  REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah (YEMEN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST MILITARY) - RTR45I5V


Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has told supporters in Sana’a he has no immediate plans of leaving his post, while thousands of anti-government activists in the capital rallied for his resignation.

Saleh described his opponents as criminals during his speech to a large crowd of loyalists on Friday.  He also urged the opposition to stop “playing with fire” because he said the Yemeni military would not stand by “idly.”

As he spoke, anti-government activists gathered across the country for what they are calling “Friday of Decisiveness” protests.  Witnesses quoted by news agencies say at least two people have been killed and about a dozen others wounded after security forces opened fire on demonstrators.

Meanwhile, news reports say Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) chief Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani will travel to Yemen on Saturday in a bid to resurrect a deal brokered by the group. The deal calls for Saleh to transfer powers to a deputy, but he has refused to sign it in his capacity as president.

Qatar pulled out of the GCC plan on Thursday.  A foreign ministry official said Qatar was forced to act because of “indecision and delays in signing the proposed agreement” and the “continued escalation and intensity of clashes” between Yemeni security forces and opposition protesters.

In a separate development, the French news agency AFP says suspected al-Qaida militants ambushed a military vehicle in Yemen on Friday and killed five soldiers.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters..

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