Yemeni wounded president delivers speech, expressing welcome partnership with opposition

08:23, July 08, 2011      

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Photo handed out on July 7, 2011 shows Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaking in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Yemen's state television on Thursday aired a speech by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the first appearance after he was attacked by a bomb on his presidential palace on June 3. (Xinhua)

More than a month after he was injured and transported to Saudi Arabia for treatment, Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh delivered a speech Thursday evening, in which he welcomed the partnership with opposition in the framework of the Yemeni constitution.

"We welcome partnership and pluralism under the constitution," he said in the speech, urging all the political forces to reconsider their positions.

Saleh, who has not been seen in public since he was injured by a bomb attack on June 3, seemingly used facial make-up for the speech.

He urged all the Yemeni political forces to put the country's interest above anything else.

"Those who want to reach power should do that in the right and democratic way through the ballot boxes," he said, without speaking of any power transfer.

During the 10-minute-long speech, Saleh also vowed to remain steadfast in front of all the political challenges, saying that " We will confront the challenge (of the opposition) with challenge. "

Saleh said he underwent eight successful medical operations for burns he sustained in last month's attack on his presidential palace and 87 government and military officials were also injured and were being treated along with him in Riyadh.

"The attack on the presidential mosque in early June bore the hallmarks of terrorists," he said.

Saleh, who is still receiving medical care in Saudi Arabia, talked while laying his body on a chair with his hands bound up by bandage.

Abdul Hafidh al-Nahari, deputy head of the information department of the ruling party General People's Congress, said that "We heard a historic speech by President Saleh that reflects his responsible behavior towards the national crisis and his brave calls to all the political forces for dialogue in order to end such crisis as well as to reach a consensus that guarantees the end of the impasse and meets all the people's aspiration."

"Furthermore, President Saleh urged the Yemeni people to work together to reach a national agreement to deal with the current situation and implement reforms," he said.

However, some analysts said Saleh appeared very sick and his condition convinced the people that he will not come back soon or easily.

"In fact, Saleh's speech carried two messages: one for his supporters and the other for his foes," said Dr Faris al-Saqqaf, head of the Future Studies Center.

"Saleh, whose face was completely burned and almost all his body was seriously injured, tried to boost the morale of his supporters and convince them that they should not give up," said al-Saqqaf.

The message that Saleh sent to his foes was that the challenge remains and he will come back, he said, adding that the speech has required the opposition who want him to resign to search for new ways to deal with the situation in Yemen.

Abdul Raqeeb al-Hathayni, an Aden-based publisher and analyst, said Saleh's appearance was not a true victory.

"I think his supporters convinced him to deliver the speech in his current condition and they just tried to boost the morale and gain more time for themselves," he said.

"Whatever Saleh says indicated that Yemen is entering a new era, " he added.

Saleh's supporters displayed fireworks and fired live bullets into the air to celebrate his appearance and improving condition Thursday evening. Local medics and witnesses said at least two people were killed and 37 others were injured across Yemen by random gunshots during the celebration.

Source: Xinhua

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