SANAA, (AFP) — Sanaa was quiet on Friday with no sign of the thousands of protesters who had flooded the streets the previous day to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since 1978.
Reports that the protesters would stage another rally after the weekly Muslim prayers proved unfounded and the situation was normal for a Friday, a weekly holiday in Yemen, with no visible extra police deployment, an AFP reporter said.
Saleh, who has been president for decades, was re-elected in September 2006 for a seven-year mandate.
A draft amendment of the constitution, under discussion in parliament despite opposition protests, could allow him – if passed – to remain in office for life.
Slogans chanted during Thursday’s demonstration in Sanaa were firm in demanding Saleh’s departure.
“No to extending (presidential tenure). No to bequeathing (the presidency),” chanted demonstrators, insisting that it was “time for change.”
Security measures at the demonstrations appeared relaxed, but were tight around the interior ministry and the central bank.
Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress (GPC), meanwhile, organised four simultaneous counter-demonstrations which were attended by thousands of the government’s backers.
“No to toppling democracy and the constitution,” the president’s supporters said on their banners.