Britain condemns Yemen violence, urges citizens to leave

12th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the "unacceptable" violence against anti-regime protesters in Yemen Saturday and called on all British citizens to leave the country.

"I was shocked by the unacceptable violence seen in Sanaa today," Hague said after four protesters died Saturday in fresh clashes between police and anti-regime demonstrators across the impoverished country.

The Foreign Office also updated its travel advice for Yemen, saying that "in light of the intensity of protests and violence, British nationals should leave Yemen as soon as they can by commercial means".

"The United Kingdom remains seriously concerned over repeated clashes with protesters and reports of intimidation of journalists in recent days," Hague said in a statement.

"This is in direct contradiction to the president's recent announcement on constitutional reform and fresh elections, which we have welcomed."

Demonstrators are demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh quit, but he has insisted he will see out his term until 2013, while offering to devolve power to parliament after a referendum on a new constitution this year.

Hague said the protesters had "legitimate demands" and urged the Yemeni authorities "to demonstrate their commitment to an orderly and peaceful transition by respecting the right of peaceful protest and free speech".

He called on all parties "to engage urgently in an open and constructive dialogue, so that it is translated as soon as possible into tangible steps in response to the legitimate demands of the Yemeni people".

© 2011 AFP

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