Take a mans freedom away all that's left is war.
Reuters – Protesters march during an anti-government demonstration in Radfan, a district in the southern Yemeni …
Reuters witnesses estimated that around 16,000 Yemenis demonstrated in four parts of Sanaa in the largest rally since a wave of protests rocked Yemen last week, and protesters vowed to escalate the unrest unless their demands were met.
"The people want a change in president," protesters shouted, holding signs that also demanded improvements to living conditions in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key ally of the United States in a war against a resurgent al Qaeda wing based in Yemen, has ruled this Arabian Peninsula state for over 30 years.
"If the (ruling) party doesn't respond to our demands, we will escalate this until the president falls, just like what happened in Tunisia," said protester Ayub Hassan.
A few dozen policemen with batons silently watched the protests, which ended calmly as demonstrators left to chew qat, a mild stimulant leaf widely consumed in Yemen in the afternoon.
Yemen's ruling party ran a competing pro-government protest that gathered only a few hundred supporters, witnesses said.
Yemen, in the shadow of the world's top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, is struggling with soaring unemployment and dwindling oil and water reserves. Almost half its 23 million people live on $2 a day or less, and a third suffer from chronic hunger.
Mohammed al-Sharfy, a student protester at the Sanaa University rally of around 10,000 protesters, said economic disparities needed to be addressed.
"I am here to say no to corruption. We need to end this trend of graduating thousands of university students each year with no jobs, while officials and their kids take everything."
TUNISIA Fueled PROTESTS