Yemen won't fall, foreign minister says

Feb. 15, 2011 at 3:00 PM
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SANAA, Yemen, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- Yemen won't go the way of Egypt or Tunisia because of a strong working relationship with members of the opposition, the Yemeni foreign affairs minister said.

A steady stream of protesters continues to demand President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down even though he promised not to seek another term in elections scheduled for 2013.

Saleh, who enjoys backing from the United States, is tackling a secessionist movement in the south as well as threats from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen's branch of al-Qaida.

Yemeni Foreign Affairs Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi said in an interview with France 24 that his government was unlikely to face the same fate as Arab regimes falling amid a wave of political unrest in the region.

"The most important thing in Yemen, contrary to governments of Tunisia and Egypt, (is that) the ruling party has never cut relations with the opposition," he was quoted as saying.

The minister said protests in Yemen are nothing new, noting demonstrations have occurred long before the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia inspired similar revolts in the Arab world.

Human Rights Watch urged the Yemeni government to exercise restraint as the social upheaval continues.

"If there's a lesson President Saleh should have learned by now, it's that violent attacks on demonstrators will not quell dissent," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.

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