Sat Jul 16, 2011
SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni protesters formed a transitional council of opposition figures on Saturday to lead efforts to try to force President Ali Abdullah Saleh from power.
Youth groups, which have been at the forefront of more than five months of protests against Saleh's three decade rule, told a news conference that the 17 member council would include former Yemeni President Ali Nasser Mohammed and leaders of several opposition groups, including exiles.
They named General Abdullah Ali Aleiwa, a former defence minister, as their choice for armed forces commander.
It was not immediately clear whether the new council would win support from a coalition of mainstream opposition parties also seeking the overthrow of Saleh. They have also called for a transitional body.
Saleh, who is in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment following an assassination attempt in June, has backed out three times from a Gulf-brokered plan to ease him from power.
Saudi Arabia, a conservative Muslim absolute monarchy, does not want to see people power bring political change on its borders. It has long been Saleh's main financial backer, and Saleh may not stand down until Riyadh demands it.
Separately, a Yemeni deputy minister said on Saturday that the United Arab Emirates had pledged 3 million barrels of oil to Yemen, which faces a fuel crisis due to attacks on a pipeline during the widespread political unrest.