Yemeni opposition renews call for regime change

Yemeni anti-government protesters demand regime change in Sanaa on Saturday.

Story highlights

  • An opposition spokesman says Saleh is known for stalling tactics
  • Protesters call for the United Nations Security Council to adopt sanctions against Saleh
  • Saleh announced Saturday that he would leave power within days
  • He refers to unrest in the nation as a "nine-month-long conspiracy"
Opposition protesters criticized Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh on Sunday, arguing that the nation's leader has never been serious about stepping down.
Saleh announced Saturday that he would leave power within days, but Yemen's largest opposition coalition said Saleh is known for his stalling tactics and could be preparing for bloodshed.
"He said in 2006 that he will not run for (the) presidency, and that was a lie," said Mohammed Qahtan, a spokesman for the coalition, known as the Joint Meeting Parties. "He said that he will sign the (Gulf Cooperation Council) proposal three times, but declined to do so each time."
Protests demanding regime change continued in numerous Yemeni provinces.
Tens of thousands of women marched through the streets of Sanaa, calling for the United Nations Security Council to announce sanctions against Saleh.
"The U.N. must understand that Saleh will not stop killing. We are demanding that his assets are frozen and that sanctions follow," said activist Arwa al-Mansoor.
Demonstrators and world powers have called for months for Saleh's departure and a transition of power. The GCC, a regional bloc of Gulf Arab nations, hammered out a transition plan months ago, but it hasn't yet been adopted.
"We can oust Saleh from power in hours. However, we gave our Gulf friends a chance to pass the GCC power transfer proposal," Qahtan said Sunday.
Yemen's ruling General People's Congress Party has said it accepts demonstrators' call for regime change, but that such change is only possible through elections.
"Yemen is a democratic country and President Saleh is willing to leave power. He got to power through elections and is willing to step down through the same box," said government spokesman Abdu Ganadi.
Ganadi said that it was against democracy for Saleh to leave power because a few thousand opposition youth are calling for it.
"I reject power and I will reject power in the coming days and I will leave power in the coming days," Saleh told Parliament on Saturday.
But senior Saleh officials said the president did not intend to say that he will be leaving within days, and added that he would step down only if a transition plan is approved.
"Saleh will not step down unless the GCC power transfer proposal is signed. He will not leave power if the proposal is not signed," Ganadi said Saturday.
In his remarks to legislators Saturday, Saleh, who has been ruling Yemen since 1978, referred to the recent months of unrest as a "nine-month-long conspiracy."
He accused the opposition of blowing up pipelines, attacking military stations, cutting off electricity, attacking republican guards, blocking roads, occupying major roadways, beating civilians, shutting down hospitals and schools, and forcibly ejecting persons from their homes.
He told legislators to "pass by the squares, and you will see the terrorism," referring to demonstrators.