Yemenis continue to demand change – protesters shot

[Ahmed Zola, Yemen Contributor]

BBC News: In the Yemeni city of Taiz, police fired on protesters killing one person and injuring more than 100. The protesters were asking for the resignation of the country’s president who has been in office for more than thirty years.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said that he is ready to discuss a peaceful transition of power, but judging from the oppressive actions of his security forces upon demonstrators, many as saying that this is a stall tactic and that he really wants to sit out the conflict.

Taiz has around 500,000 inhabitants and is 200 km south of Sanaa, the country’s capital. The demonstration last Friday was among many in recent times asking for the resignation of the president.

About Yemen

Yemen is a middle eastern country which was formed in 1990. It has a predominantly young population of around 23.4 million and had been occupied previously by the Turks and the British. Its capital is Sanaa and  Ali Abdallah Salih is its current head of state. It borders Saudia Arabia and Oman.

Yemenis are mainly Arab, but there are African strains on its coast. Arabic is its official language, but English is understood in most of its cities.  Muslims are in the majority comprising Sunnies and Shi’ites. Sunnies are found in the south and southeast of the country and Shi’ites are in the north and northwest. Shi’ites claim to be marginalised by the Sunnies and historically there is tension between the two groups.

Yemen is one of the poorest of the Arab countries with an average growth of 3-4% between 2000 and 2007.  It has oil, but its resources are declining.  It is currently attempting to diversify its economy and has been assisted by the World Bank which had, in 2006 raised $4.7 billion for its development fund for use between 2007 and 2010.  It has also benefitted from Gulf Cooperation Council (‘GCC’) countries which has pledged $3.5 billion for development projects in 2007/10.

As in most Arab countries, corruption is a major problem for the country especially in government circles where sectarian interests are openly protected.

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