Yemen's Saleh tends to end clashes, political crisis through dialogue

15:37, May 26, 2011      

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by Wang Qiuyun, Fuad Rajeh

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said in an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday that he intends to end current conflicts with the opposition leader Sadiq al-Ahmer through mediation, and he still welcomes the peaceful dialogue with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Heavy clashes erupted in Yemen's capital Sanaa a day after Saleh refused to sign a Gulf-brokered power-transition for the third time. At least 82 people from both sides were killed in the clashes in Sanaa between government forces and armed tribesmen loyal to Yemeni opposition leader Sadiq al-Ahmer during the past two days.

Saleh, who faced months-long protests demanding his immediate resignation, said he already sent mediators to solve it, and restrained from waging a civil war.

"I was shocked by the attacks by al-Ahmer's men and they attempted to take over government buildings. They are committing provocative actions and leading us to a civil war," Saleh said.

"Life is very precious to us, and they should be responsible for killings and bloodshed. Until this moment they are attacking the interior ministry," he said, adding that he has asked social figures to contact al-Ahmer to prevent the armed men from attacking the government building anymore.

On the GCC-brokered power transition deal he refused to sign for the third time earlier this week, The president repeatedly expressed his readiness to take the deal positively.

"I am ready to sign the GCC initiative as an integrated system according to some specific condition," the president said, pointing out that the GCC mediator should deal with all requirements from the government and the opposition.

"We handed the GCC our vision, but their reaction was not positive. The GCC Chief came and spoke to me in an inappropriate way. 'You sign or refuse.' It is not a good way to speak to a president. We don't want to be affected by the opposition's views, " said the strongman who ruled the country for decades.

"Within the peaceful framework and the mechanism for the initiative, I am ready to sign the deal and give up my power," Saleh affirmed.

However, Saleh then expressed his readiness for early presidential elections without "any initiative from the GCC and U. S. or the EU."

"We are ready for presidential elections if there were no initiative from the GCC and U.S. or the EU. The ballot boxes are the best solution for us and I will not cling to power."

Saleh has called for early presidential elections on Friday to end domestic political crisis in his speech to tens of thousands of his supporters, gathering near presidential palace in Sanaa.

Saleh, in the interview, also expressed his concern about the deteriorating economic situation in Yemen.

"I am concerned about the post-crisis period... how Yemen's neighbors and friends are going to help Yemeni people boost their economy and compensate the losses since the unrest started four months ago," he said.

Facing mounting external and internal pressure, Saleh denied he would leave Yemen if he stepped down, "I am a common Yemeni citizen, I would head the ruling party and lead the domestic political process as a partner," said the president.

Source: Xinhua
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