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Tens of thousands of protesters flood Yemen's streets

Muhammed Muheisen / AP

An anti-government protestor reacts as he and other demonstrators shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa, Yemen on March 1.

Tens of thousands of protesters flooded Yemen's streets Tuesday, dedicating a fresh "Day of Rage" to the 24 people killed in demonstrations demanding an end to the president's three-decade rule, Reuters reports.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a U.S. ally against al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing, has failed to quell two months of protests in a country where half its 23 million people own guns, 40 percent live on $2 a day or less and a third face chronic hunger.

Protesters are also angry at widespread corruption. Yemeni university graduates struggle to get jobs without connections and youth unemployment is high.

Yemen is also riven with regional strife, with Shi'ite rebels in the north and separatists in the south demanding fairer political participation.

Saleh has been meeting with tribal and regional military leaders to rally support, but with oil and water resources drying up, his cash-strapped government is no longer able to pay off allies to keep the peace.

Saleh offered talks to form a unity government Monday. But the opposition swiftly rebuffed the offer, saying it was standing with protesters demanding he step aside.

In a meeting with religious leaders, also Monday, Saleh warned that those behind the protests were dividing the country.

"They would not be able to rule for even one week," he said, quoted by state media. "Yemen would be divided ... into four pieces by those who are riding the wave of stupidity."

Most deaths since January were in the southern port city of Aden, where protesters and police have clashed regularly. Many complain that security forces have reacted more violently to protests in the south, which was once an independent state.

"With blood and soul we support you Aden," protesters shouted on the streets of capital Sanaa. Al Jazeera television showed protesters making "V" for victory signs while others wore white headbands with "Leave" written in red.

Protesters in the last few days have chanted: "No to dialogue, no to dialogue, your leaving is the only option."

View more images from a month of protest across Yemen in our slideshow.