Anti-government protesters pray during a rally to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa (Photo:Reuters)
Thousands of Yemenis took to the streets on Tuesday demanding an immediate transfer of power and legal action against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, absent from the country for over three months.
"The people want a new Yemen," chanted the protesters. "The people want victory for the revolt."
"The people want to bring the assailant to justice," they chanted, referring to Saleh, whose loyalists and security forces have killed at least 200 demonstrators since January.
The protesters denounced Saleh's decision to authorise Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to sign a Gulf plan which was proposed by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), setting the path for a peaceful transition of power out of Saleh's hands.
The "Revolution Youth" who have organised the protests for months slammed what they described as Saleh's "manoeuvres" and demanded the "immediate departure of the remains of his regime," in a statement Tuesday.
The protesters marched round a square, protected by defected army units in Sanaa, where they have camped since February in an attempt to avoid clashes with forces loyal to Saleh, an AFP correspondent there reported.
Saleh, who has ruled Yemen since 1978 and has been recovering in Saudi Arabia from a June 3 attack on his presidential compound, has also authorised Hadi to begin preparations for early presidential elections to be carried out under regional and international supervision.
No date for the elections has so far been set. Saleh's current presidential term ends in 2013.
Yemen's parliamentary opposition has also rejected Saleh's move as a mere delay tactic.
Since his departure three months ago, Saleh has refused to hand over power to his deputy or sign the Gulf initiative which calls on Saleh to step down as president of Yemen and hand over all constitutional authorities to the vice president.
In exchange, Saleh would receive amnesty from prosecution for himself and his family.
In recent weeks, the United Nations intervened to break the political deadlock and proposed a "road map" for implementing the Gulf initiative, but its efforts failed.