Ruling party urges talks in Yemen to halt protests

Thousands of protesters have taken to Yemen streets demanding a govt change.

Sana’a: Yemen`s ruling party has called for dialogue with the opposition, the country`s state news agency said late on Friday, in a bid to stem anti-government protests fuelled by popular unrest in its neighbours.

Supporters of the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh attacked and dispersed dozens of Yemenis who tried to march to the Egyptian embassy in Sana`a to express solidarity with anti-government Egyptian demonstrators.

The Yemeni protesters were chanting "the people want the regime to fall," witnesses said.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in recent days in Yemen demanding a change of government. The protests were inspired by the overthrow two weeks ago of Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and a spill-over to Egypt.

"We... call for the halting of media propaganda and urge all political parties to work together to make the dialogue a success and arrange for upcoming elections," a committee of the ruling General People`s Congress (GPC) party was quoted as saying on the website of the state news agency late on Friday.

"Furthermore, we urge an end to protests that ignite dissent to avoid dragging the country into conflict or sedition," it said.

The streets of Sana`a were quiet on Friday, after about 16,000 Yemenis demonstrated across the city on Thursday in the largest rally since a wave of protests erupted in Yemen last week.

The GPC said in October it would participate in an election scheduled for April 2011, dashing opposition hopes that the government would delay the poll to allow more time for talks on long-promised reforms.

Current unrest appears to be partly a reaction to a proposal last year by GPC members to end presidential term limits that would require Saleh to step down when his term ends in 2013.

Saleh`s party backtracked last week in an effort to calm discontent, floating the idea of a new amendment that would limit a president to two terms of either five or seven years.

Saleh, a key ally of the United States in a war against a resurgent al Qaeda wing in Yemen, has ruled the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state for over 30 years.

Yemen is trying to quell a secessionist rebellion in its south and cement a truce with northern Shi`ite rebels.

Bureau Report