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‘Will give up power in days’

I reject power and will continue to reject it,says Yemen’s embattled President Saleh.

Written by Agencies | Sanaa |
October 9, 2011 12:40:54 am

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday he would leave power in the coming days,the closest the leader has come to announcing he plans to step down after nine months of mass protests against his 33-year rule.

“I reject power and I will continue to reject it,and I will be leaving power in the coming days,” Saleh said in a speech on state television.

“But there are men who will take power. There are men who are true to their pledges,whether military or civilians,who will take power. They can never destroy the country.’’

He did not elaborate on whom he was referring to or give any firm commitment to resign. He said he would meet with parliament in the coming days to “transparently discuss” the situation in Yemen.

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Saleh railed against the opposition forces,which he accused of being behind the chaos in the country. He also said they failed to cooperate with his deputy,who took over some of his duties while he was away. He said the opposition groups are holders of a “dark and destructive project.”

He ridiculed the opposition’s claims that he plans to transfer power to a family member. “How many are the president’s sons? How big is the president’s family? How many brothers or grandchildren? How many of those are in power?” Saleh said. His son Ahmed and several of his nephews control powerful military units,and Ahmed has long been seen as the heir apparent for the presidency.

Saleh said he returned from Saudi Arabia with “an olive branch and a dove of peace” but opponents failed to seize or understand it. He also said a country had asked him not to return to Yemen,but he declined the request. “I am not a ‘transit’ president,” he said.

Saleh was gravely wounded in an explosion at his presidential palace in June,after which he went to Saudi Arabia for treatment. As he spoke to lawmakers,his hands encased in beige medical gloves for the treatment of burns,he didn’t shake hands with his guests,who instead shook the hands of his deputy standing by his side.

This was not the first time Saleh has expressed a willingness to step down amid eight months of mass protests.

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