Monday, March 21, 2011

Growing pressure from Europe for Yemeni leader to step down

Mar 21, 2011

Paris/Brussels - France and Italy called Monday on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign, with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe saying he believed his departure was 'unavoidable.'

International outrage mounted after some 52 people died and hundreds were injured on Friday, as security forces attacked protesters calling for Saleh's ouster in the capital Sana'a.

'We say to Yemen, where the situation is worsening, we believe today that the departure of President Saleh is unavoidable,' Juppe said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

His Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, said the EU needed to take the same line it had taken with Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi after he was accused of shooting his own people - he was told then to 'relinquish power immediately.'

'When people are killed in the streets, when there are these kinds of action, Europe should always intervene in the same way,' Frattini told reporters.

But a joint statement issued by EU ministers after their meeting was more measured, calling only for 'an orderly political transition' and urging the Yemeni government 'to engage in constructive, comprehensive and inclusive dialogue.'

The ministers' remarks came as Yemeni ambassadors to Paris, Brussels, Geneva, Berlin and London and the consul in Frankfurt sent a message to the president 'asking him to respond to the demands of the people and resign to avoid bloodshed.'

The news was reported by France's Le Monde newspaper, which quoted Khaled Al-Akwaa, the ambassador to France.

In a further signal of the international community giving Saleh the cold shoulder, Frattini said that a 'Friends of Yemen' meeting planned for next week in Saudi Arabia had been cancelled.

The developments follow a series of defections by top security officials to the opposition and the reported resignations of several ambassadors, including the ambassadors to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and the United Nations.

Source: M&C

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