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Yemen opposition insists Saleh quit, president digs in

Posted by on March 22, 2011 0 Comment

Sana’a, March 22 (IANS) Reiterating its rejection of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s fresh offer to step down by 2013 after transfering power to parliament later this year, Yemen’s opposition Tuesday demanded he immediately quit office.

“We do not have any change in our stance, the decision now is up to the protesters in the streets,” Xinhua quoted opposition spokesman Mohamed Qahtan as saying.

Earlier in the day, the Yemeni government denied reports suggesting President Ali Abdullah Saleh intended to step down from his post by the year-end.

“There was no change in the stance of President Saleh, especially after the president offered his initiative about transferring power to the parliament by the end of 2011 and leaving his post in 2013,” presidential press secretary Ahmed al-Soufi told Xinhua Tuesday.

“The difference between Saleh’s initiative and the opposition’s five-point initiative is about the time — both initiatives called for transferring the power, but differ on the exact time.

“Moving the power to the parliament system would be a safe solution to stave off unrest to Yemen,” he said, adding “the opposition coalition still insisted on its initiative.”

On Monday, Saleh claimed that a majority of the country was in favour of stability, after several officials and diplomats defected from his regime in protest against the use of violence against demonstrators, DPA reported.

“We are as firm as mountains are and the vast majority of Yemenis opt for security, stability and constitutional legislation,” Saleh told tribesmen in Sana’a province, according to state news agency SABA.

Saleh’s statement Monday came after a series of officials defected from the government, protesting the use of violence against demonstrators who are demanding an end to Saleh’s 32-year rule.

Two top security officials pledged their support to protesters, sources at the ministry of defence said. One of them is General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the military commander of Yemen’s north-western area. He is also Saleh’s half-brother.

Yemen’s ambassador to Syria Abdel Wahab al-Tawaf resigned from his post Monday, according to a diplomat source in Damascus. There were also unconfirmed reports of several Yemen ambassadors in European capital calling on Saleh to step down.

The country’s ambassadors to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and the UN have resigned, regional broadcasters said. The governor of Yemen’s Aden province was said to have also resigned.

Three Yemeni ministers have already resigned over the past week, leading Saleh Sunday to fire his government.

Security forces have repeatedly attacked the protesters calling for Saleh’s ouster. On Friday, some 52 people died and hundreds were injured in an assault on protesters gathered in Taghyeer square, in the capital Sana’a, increasing public anger against the president.

On Jan 27, tens of thousands of Yemenis demonstrated in the capital Sana’a, calling on Saleh to step down.

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