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Citizens rally against leaders in Yemen, Algeria

Yemeni students in Sana chant slogans Saturday calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave the government and follow ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile.

Associated Press

Yemeni students in Sana chant slogans Saturday calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to leave the government and follow ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile.

SANA, Yemen — Drawing inspiration from the revolt in Tunisia, thousands of Yemenis fed up with President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 32-year rule demanded his ouster Saturday in a noisy demonstration that appeared to be the first large-scale public challenge to him.

Clashes also broke out Saturday in Algeria as opposition activists there tried to copy the tactics of their Tunisian neighbors, who forced their longtime leader to flee the country more than a week ago.

The protests in Yemen appeared to be the first of their kind. The nation's 23 million citizens have many grievances: They are the poorest people in the Arab world, there are few political freedoms, constitutional changes are proposed that would allow the president to rule for a lifetime, and the country is rapidly running out of water.

About 2,500 students, activists and opposition groups chanted slogans against Saleh on the grounds of the University of Sana, comparing him to Tunisia's ousted president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, whose people were similarly enraged by economic woes and government corruption. Protests were also held in the southern port city of Aden. Police fired tear gas on protesters in both cities.

"Get out, get out, Ali. Join your friend Ben Ali," the crowds chanted.

In Algeria, meanwhile, helmeted riot police with batons and shields clashed with rock- and chair-throwing protesters who tried to march in the capital, Algiers, in defiance of a ban on public gatherings. Protest organizers at the democratic opposition party RCD draped a Tunisian flag next to the Algerian flag on a balcony of the party headquarters.

The government said 19 people were injured; an opposition party official put the figure at more than 40.

Tunisian police

join protesters

Tunisia's once-feared police staged a rally of their own Saturday, demanding better salaries and insisting they're not to blame for shooting deaths among protesters who forced the North African country's longtime autocratic president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, to flee. At least 2,000 police rallied in downtown Tunis, with officers climbing onto their official cars, blowing their whistles and waving flags and signs. Some exchanged hugs to congratulate each other about their chance to protest. Many were joined by their families.

Clinton urges reforms: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi on Saturday "to encourage ongoing reforms" and offer U.S. support "for transition to open democracy," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said.

Citizens rally against leaders in Yemen, Algeria 01/22/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:16pm]

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