President sacks ministers over Yemen slaughter

Yemen's embattled leader sacked his entire cabinet last night amid a mounting revolt from within the political elite over his handling of anti-government protests that have left around 100 dead.

The decision came as a third minister resigned from the government along with the ambassador to the United Nations, the latest in a line of high-ranking officials to abandon President Ali Abdullah Saleh after loyalist snipers shot dead up to 52 anti-regime demonstrators on Friday, the bloodiest day yet in a month-long uprising.

The president's office issued a statement saying that he was firing his cabinet, which will stay on as caretaker until a new one is formed, after tens of thousands of protesters turned out onto the streets of the capital, Sana'a, to mourn the deaths of their slain compatriots.

Mr Saleh has denied responsibility for the protesters' deaths – suggesting that disgruntled residents living in the vicinity may have opened fire – but demonstrators claimed that at least seven of the snipers captured were carrying government identification cards.

As the number of resignations mount, Mr Saleh, who has held power since 1978, looks increasingly bereft of political support. Leaders of the country's two most important tribes have now joined the opposition movement.

In emotional scenes, mourners gathered near Sana'a University, the symbolic centre of the popular uprising, as the bodies of more than 30 people were laid out in rows, flowers strewn across them. The killings have drawn international condemnation from the European Union, the UN and the United States, which backs Mr Saleh's regime to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars to help combat a potential-Qa'ida offshoot in Yemen's remote provinces.

Mr Saleh attempted to defuse tensions yesterday by replacing police officers, widely blamed for the deaths, with a lightly-armed military presence around areas of protest in Sana'a.

But the opposition, which had previously sought reform, not regime change, was unmoved, joining protesters in calling for Mr Saleh's immediate resignation.

Mohammed al-Sabri, an opposition spokesman, said: "The president must understand that the only way to avoid more bloodshed and strife in this country is for him to leave.".

Mr Saleh, whose domestic woes include two long-running secessionist rebellions, is also facing defections from those formerly loyal to him.

The human rights minister Huda al-Ban was the third member of Mr Saleh's cabinet to quit yesterday in protest at what she described as the government's "horrible, cowardly and perfidious crime".

Abdullah Alsaidi, Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations, also resigned his post in response to the crackdown. At least 50 officials have now resigned from the ruling General People Congress (GPC) party, according to Waq al Waq, a blog that concerns itself with Yemen. These include members of parliament, judges and diplomats.

Mr Saleh had responded to protests with pledges to devolve more power to the parliament, and to step down when his term was up in 2013. But the measures failed to mollify the opposition, which has accused him of reneging on such promises before.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants