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Yemen claims opposition figures behind assassination attempt

By Hakim Almasmari, For CNN
Yemeni women and children hold a portrait of President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a rally in Sanaa on July 17, 2011.
Yemeni women and children hold a portrait of President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a rally in Sanaa on July 17, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The two include wealthy businessman and its top general
  • Spokesman does not say what proof the investigation uncovered
  • Opposition leaders say the government has no proof
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Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- The Yemeni government officially accused Friday two of the biggest opposition figures in the country of planning the assassination plot on President Ali Abdullah Saleh two months ago.

They are Hamid al-Ahmar, the opposition's wealthiest businessman, and Ali Mohsen, the most powerful military leader in the country.

In a news conference held Thursday night, Abdu Ganadi, the government spokesman said that al-Ahmar and Mohsen planned the attack.

"After a long investigation, we have strong accusations against Hamid al-Ahmar and Ali Mohsen and believe that they stand behind the attack on President Saleh and senior government officials at the presidential palace mosque," said Ganadi.

He did not reveal what proof the government investigation uncovered against the two.

This is the first time the Yemeni government officially accused a side for standing behind the attack since the presidential palace bombing on June 3.

Hamid Al-Ahmar, is a famous business tycoon, and has spent millions of dollars since the start of the Yemeni revolution to ruin Saleh's reputation through his satellite network Suhail TV.

Mohsen defected from the Yemeni military on March 18 and since then has joined the call for Saleh to leave power.

The opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) warned the international community against believing the "fabrications" the Saleh regime continues to spread and said that JMP and its partners would soon come up with a statement rejecting the accusations against its leaders.

Mohammed Basendowah, the president of the opposition dialogue committee, said that the government has no proof against the two opposition leaders. "We ask the government to bring forward concrete evidence on what it is claiming," he said.

Legal expert Hizam al-Muraisi, who is based in Sanaa, called the government's accusations a tool the government is using against anyone who opposes its regime. "You don't accuse anyone without evidence. By accusing two opposition leaders without proof weakens the government's credibility and transparency," said al-Muraisi.

Al-Muraisi said that the government claims will be ignored by concerned sides until evidence is put on the table. "Over the last three months, the government has not been very honest and tries to hurt the opposition in any way. So this was expected," he said.

In a televised speech by Saleh from Riyadh on Monday, he announced that he would be coming back to Yemen soon.

Saleh has been in Saudi Arabia receiving medical treatment since the beginning of June when he suffered severe burns in the assassination attempt.

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