President Saleh to Declare Unity Government
Beleagured president to make announcement "within next 24 hours", sources tell Al Jazeera.
Sana'a- Feb 28, 2011- Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, is to announce a government of national unity "within the next 24 hours", government sources have told Al Jazeera.
The move comes as thousands more protesters joined demonstrations against Saleh's 32-year rule on Monday.
Hashem Ahelbarra, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Yemen, said: "It's a last ditch effort to try and appease the mounting tension here in the capital and across the country.
"Al Jazeera understands that President Ali Abdullah Saleh has had a crucial meeting with the clerics of Yemen in the presidential palace and he told them that within 24 hours from now he will announce a national unity government.
"He reportedly said that even if the opposition decides not to join him in this government, he will contact independent personalities and invite them to join this national unity government that would lay down the groundwork for dramatic constitutional reforms."
The opposition appeared likely to reject any offer from Saleh.
"The opposition decided to stand with the people's demand for the fall of the regime, and there is no going back from that," Mohammed al-Sabry, a spokesman for Yemen's umbrella opposition coalition, was reported by the Reuters news agency as saying.
Protests against Saleh, a US ally in its fight against al-Qaeda, have spread across the impoverished Arabian Peninsula in the last month.
In the northern cities of Ibb and Hudeida on Monday, thousands of protesters gathered, while at least 10,000 took to the streets in Taiz, 200km south of the capital.
Elsewhere, in the south, three soldiers and a policeman died in skirmishes.