SANAA, Yemen, March 23 (UPI) -- The Yemen Parliament approved a 30-day state of emergency, granting security forces a freer hand and imposing media censorship, officials said.
The state of emergency, declared by President Ali Abdullah Saleh Friday, empowers security forces to arrest suspects and grants authorities the power to impose media censorship and bar street protests, Gulfnews.com reported.
The move comes as anti-regime opposition groups called for a march after prayers Friday outside Saleh's palace, the Italian news agency Agenzia Giornalistica Italia reported.
The opposition Tuesday rejected an offer by Saleh to step down in January, Gulfnews.com said.
"The man is politically dead and his words are deadlier. Talking about political deals and initiatives now is impossible after more than 150 people were killed and 2,000 wounded," opposition leader Mohammed al-Sabri told The National, the Abu-Dhabi daily.
Hundreds of military leaders, parliament members, diplomats and government officials have left their positions in recent days, declaring support for the anti-regime protesters, Gulfnews.com said.
Troops from the Republican Guards led by Saleh's son Ahmed seized control of an air force base in the Hodiedah province after its commander, Ahmed al-Sanahani, joined anti-regime groups, The National said.
In a televised speech, Saleh called on the defectors to "return to reason," The National reported.
"Those people who are seeking power through coups should not think that things will stabilize, this is not the case ... This will lead to civil war and bloodshed," Saleh warned. "There is a chance to come back and apologize," the paper quoted him saying.
His remarks were rejected by al-Sabri who accused the president of "trying to invest in the panic of the people and we are fed up with such fears, and this is why the people want him to leave immediately," he told the paper.