SANAA (Reuters) – Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh fired his government on Sunday after a string of allies broke ranks with him as he faces increasing pressure from street protests to step down.
Mourners buried some of the 52 anti-government protesters shot dead by rooftop snipers after Muslim Friday prayers in the Arabian Peninsula state, where tens of thousands of people have protested for weeks against Saleh’s three decades-long rule.
“The president of the republic has dismissed the government,” state media said, adding that efforts to form a new government were underway. No reasons was given for the move.
Yassin Noman, rotating head of an opposition coalition, dismissed the move as “an attempt to diminish the repercussions that the regime faces after the resignations of a number of ministers and ambassadors.”
Friday’s bloodshed prompted Saleh, a key U.S. ally in the fight against al Qaeda, to declare a state of emergency for 30 days that restricts freedom of movement and the right to gather. It also gives police more powers to make inspections and arrests.
Yemen’s ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah Alsaidi resigned on Sunday as defections picked up steam.