'Day of Rage' protests in Yemen




-- What seemed like thousands of anti-government protesters gathered near Sanaa University in Yemen's capital early Thursday morning, a clear indication that many in the country were not satisfied with President Ali Abdullah Saleh's recent announcement that he would not seek re-election.

Protesters of all ages chanted and held signs with messages against poverty and the government. Some proclaimed that Saleh needed to step down.

As the protest quickly grew, there was very little visible security in the area.

About a kilometer away from the anti-government protest, a large crowd of government supporters gathered for a demonstration.

Many in that crowd expressed support for Saleh and said he was doing a good job as president.

There was no apparent clashes between the two sides or with security forces.

Anti-government demonstrators went ahead with their march Thursday despite Saleh's concession a day earlier.

Trying to quell a growing discontent in the country, Saleh said he will not seek re-election once his current term ends in 2013, after more than three decades in office. Saleh has been in office for 32 years and was last re-elected in 2006.

He won't install his son to replace him also, he said. He also has asked his political opponents "to re-engage in dialogue in hopes of reaching a sustainable and reconcilable political agreement," the Yemeni government said.

Thursday's protest came amidst a similar ongoing unrest in Egypt and a revolt in Tunisia that forced that nation's longtime strongman to flee to Saudi Arabia in mid-January.

King Abdullah of Jordan, meanwhile, has sacked his government and appointed a new prime minister in the face of protests there.

The protests -- which have also caught on to various extents in Algeria and Sudan -- have proved to be "a real watershed event for the Arab world," said Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine. "It's really unprecedented."