Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rallies protest Yemeni president's expected return

AHMED AL-HAJ; The Associated Press

June 18, 2011

SANAA, Yemen – Yemen’s president plans to return home within days after treatment in Saudi Arabia for serious injuries suffered in an attack on his palace, officials said Friday, as hundreds of thousands of his opponents rallied in the streets to say he would not be welcome back.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh was badly burned in the June 3 blast at his palace, which wounded other members of his senior leadership and killed at least 11 guards. In his absence, Yemen’s opposition parties have sought to persuade the ruling party to join them in a transitional leadership that would effectively shut out Saleh, who has resisted tremendous pressure at home and abroad to step down.

But loyalists have insisted the president will return and resume his duties, and Saleh’s powerful son Ahmed, who commands some of the country’s best trained military forces, has remained behind in Yemen to help maintain his father’s hold.

Ruling party official Yasser al-Yamani said plans to welcome the embattled leader are under way.

“He will return home after medical reports said he is getting better,” he told The Associated Press Friday.

A statement quoting a presidential official said Saleh would return “in days.”

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