Friday, 1 July 2011

President Saleh wants his government to talk with the opposition


Source: The National,01/07/2011

ADEN // Yemen's foreign minister said he was instructed by Ali Adullah Saleh, the president, to set up talks with the opposition to transfer power in the crisis-hit country as the army was able to retake control of a strategic spot in its battle with militants in the south.

Abu Bakr Al Qirbi, the foreign minister, spoke from Saudi Arabia after a quick visit with Mr Saleh, who was badly burnt and suffered other wounds in the attack on his compound in Sana'a on June 3.

"The president directed his deputy and the government to begin dialogue with the other parties in the opposition in accordance with the Gulf initiative and the latest UN Security Council statement," Mr Al Qirbi said, speaking on Yemeni television, late on Wednesday.

The plan for transferring power was made months ago. In return for stepping down, Mr Saleh and his family would receive immunity from prosecution. He promised at least three times to sign the plan but each time balked at the last minute.

The Gulf Cooperation Council, which brokered the plan, has tried to convince Mr Saleh to step down, although he has held onto power since he was injured through his sons and other relatives, some of whom command military units.

But recent days have seen militants - some believed to have links to Al Qaeda - seizing upon the growing chaos to take over entire towns in Southern Yemen, and pressure is mounting for a resolution of the crisis.

Yesterday, the army regained control of a strategic spot in the southern city of Zinjibar, which has almost entirely fallen under the militants' control.

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