Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yemen opposition to form umbrella council

August 9, 2011 (AFP)

SANAA — The Yemeni opposition vying to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is recovering from bomb blast wounds in Riyadh, said Tuesday it will elect an umbrella "national council" aiming to take over power.

The parliamentary Common Forum opposition set August 17 for a meeting "to establish the (proposed) national assembly, which will form an umbrella for the revolution and choose members of a national council," it said.

The council aims to "lead the revolution forces to move ahead with change that will fulfill the aspirations of the Yemeni people," it added.

The opposition has been discussing the proposed council for months. It hopes to unite the parties of the Common forum, which include the influential Islamist Al-Islah (reform) party, along with young protesters who have led anti-regime protests since January.

It will also include representatives of civil society, members of the secessionist Southern Movement and the northern Shiite Huthi rebels, in addition to independent activists.

The council aims to support the protesters, coordinate between them and the parliamentary opposition, and to create a plan for overthrowing the regime, according to the opposition.

Members of the council will be chosen from more than 700 activists representing all pro-revolution political forces in Yemen, Common Forum alliance spokesman Mohammed Sabri told AFP.

Saleh was flown to Saudi Arabia for treatment after he was wounded in a bomb attack on his Sanaa compound early June.

Yemen's Saba official news agency said Sunday he had left the Saudi hospital, but was staying in Riyadh for recovery.

Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat quoted unidentified US sources Monday as saying Saleh "has decided not to return to Yemen."

Saleh has made this decision "under pressures by the United States" and from "fear of being brought to justice like (former) Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak," whose trial began on August 3, six months after he was toppled by mass protests, the paper reported.

But Saba denied the report, insisting that Saleh will return to Yemen after "convalescence."

At least 200 people have been killed in the crackdown by Saleh's security forces and his loyalists on anti-regime protests.

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