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Yemen opposition welcomes U.N. call for power transfer

By Hakim Almasmari, For CNN
Anti-government protesters in Sanaa on August 8 after hearing rumors that President Saleh won't return to Yemen.
Anti-government protesters in Sanaa on August 8 after hearing rumors that President Saleh won't return to Yemen.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Security Council calls for an "orderly" transition
  • The president was badly hurt in a June assassination attempt
  • Saleh's supporters want their president to serve out his term
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Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Yemen's top opposition movement welcomed the U.N. Security Council's call for a transfer of power, an initiative that could end the political instability in the poverty-ridden Arab nation.

Mohammed Qahtan, the spokesman for the Joint Meeting Parties, said on Wednesday that the international stance must not be different from the will of the people who are seeking democracy and reforms.

"The U.N. and our international friends must make positive and quick steps towards the Yemeni revolution and ensure change in the manner Yemenis see necessary," said Qahtan.

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday urged Yemeni parties "to move forward urgently (in) an inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led process of political transition that meets the needs and aspirations of the Yemeni people for change."

It voiced concerns over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Yemen. They were "deeply concerned at the worsening security situation, including the threat from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

Yemen has endured months of protests and militant violence.

Protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh began in January after the successful uprising in Tunisia that triggered region-wide reform movements.

The protests led to open street battles after Saleh balked at a deal with the opposition that would have eased him out of office within a month.

The government has also faced off with Islamic militants, including the al Qaeda wing in Yemen, regarded by analysts as a potent and dangerous group.

Saleh was badly injured last June in an assassination attempt on the presidential palace amid a tribal revolt against his 32-year-old rule and was taken to Saudi Arabia for treatment.

He had been discharged from a military hospital, but it was not clear when he would return to Yemen.

Saleh's vice president, Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has been running the government since then.

The opposition has vowed to prevent Saleh from returning.

The JMP has announced the formation of a national council on August 17 to represent all the factions in the Yemeni political arena. That's a step experts see as a beginning to the formation of an independent transitional government.

"The JMP has been patient with the slow international reaction towards the Yemeni revolution and is not willing to stay quiet any longer," said Ali Abdul Jabbar, director of the Sana'a based Dar Ashraf Research Center.

He said that the JMP is currently under immense pressure from the pro-democracy youth to cut all channels of dialogue with the regime.

"The youth have been patient and ignored for six months. The JMP saw the international community had enough time to demand change but failed."

But Mohammed Nagi Shaef, head of Bakeel confederation,Yemen's biggest tribe, and senior member of the ruling General People Congress party, said that Yemeni tribes will not allow the international community to force Saleh into early elections or withdraw from power

He said that tribal leaders have called on all Saleh's supporters nationwide to come to the capital and protest in front of the presidential palace, demanding that the international community allow Saleh back in Yemen.

"President Saleh's term ends in 2013, and we will not allow him to leave before that period at any cost. This is what the Yemeni constitution says and this is what will happen," said Shaef.

However, Hameed al-Ahmar, the president of the opposition dialogue committee, said world powers should listen to the voice of the people to ensure safety and stability in the region.

The United Nations, the United States and the European Union "are clearly standing with the will of the Yemeni people for change. This is what Yemenis were waiting for all along," said al-Ahmar.

"This is what we expected from the U.S. and the international community and we hope it continues," al-Ahmar said.

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