Friday, April 22, 2011

Protests in Yemen as President Remains Vague on Transition Plan

VOA News

Sana'a, April 22, 2011- Thousands of protesters demonstrated across Yemen on Friday, again demanding the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh who remains vague as to whether he will accept a plan for his leaving office.

In a speech outside the presidential palace in Sana'a, Mr. Saleh said he welcomes efforts of a six-nation Gulf Arab council offering to end anti-government unrest and speed up his leaving office. But Mr. Saleh said any proposals must meet the framework of the constitution.

The president told supporters who waved flags and pictures of him that his government wanted to avoid bloodshed. He rejected what he called an attempted "coup" of freedom and democracy.

Meanwhile, Reuters news says riot police fired into the air to keep pro-and anti-government demonstrators apart in the southern city of Taiz on Friday.

Separately, Yemeni security officials say suspected al-Qaida militants killed at least six soldiers on Friday in attacks in the northeastern province of Marib.

Yemen was battling al-Qaida elements in the country and a separatist rebellion in the south before anti-government unrest erupted earlier this year.

On Thursday, the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council presented Mr. Saleh with a plan that calls for him to transfer power to a deputy, who would then form a unity government within two months.

Under the plan, ruling party members would control half of the unity government, 40 percent would be held by an opposition coalition, with the rest made up of unaffiliated parties.

Mr. Saleh said he welcomes the plan but does not say whether he will abide by it. The president has previously indicated that he will not step down until elections scheduled in 2013.

President Saleh has ruled Yemen for the past 32 years.

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