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YEMEN: President addresses supporters, vows to resist 'saboteurs'

May 13, 2011 |  6:16 am

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Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Friday he would confront challenges from opponents, whom he called “saboteurs,” and said they should use the ballot box if they want to end his nearly 33 years in power.

“We will confront a challenge with a challenge. Whoever wants power should head to the ballot box.... Stop playing with fire,” Saleh said as tens of thousands of people rallied in counterdemonstrations outside the presidential palace in Sana for and against his rule.

Timeline: Conflict in Yemen

“I call on the opposition to join in a constructive dialogue under any organization and in any place,” he said.

Saleh has so far effectively rejected agreements brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council that would have allowed him to step down with immunity.

On Friday, a column of protesters prayed along the road to the palace, then marched routes that have become well-traveled in recent days. No deaths or serious injuries had been reported Friday afternoon and protests appeared to be peaceful, although analysts have warned of a security crackdown after a deadly week of unrest that left more than a dozen dead.

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Timeline: Conflict in Yemen

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo and a correspondent in Sana

Photo: Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh attends a rally held by pro-government supporters in Sana on Friday. Huge crowds in Sana and other Yemeni cities demanded on Friday that Saleh leave after months of popular tumult that has brought the Arab world's poorest country close to economic meltdown. Credit: Khaled Abdullah/Reuters.

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