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Yemeni opposition declares establishment of anti-Saleh " National council"

(Xinhua)

08:34, August 18, 2011

SANAA, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Yemen's mainstream opposition coalition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) declared Wednesday the formation of the "National Council" with 143 members based on a " National Council for Peaceful Revolution Forces", which aims at unifying different forces across the country to ouster President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The 1,000 representatives of the "National Council for Peaceful Revolution Forces" elected 143 members to lead the committee against Saleh and his ruling party.

The 143 members said in a statement that they will later elect a chairman and a 20-member executive board for the National Council.

The president of the National Dialogue Committee of the JMP, Mohammed Basindwah, told reporters earlier Wednesday during the founding ceremony of the "National Council for Peaceful Revolution Forces" in Sanaa that "the committee came as a result of months- long efforts by the JMP and its partners in order to lead and unify the various opposing factions to force Saleh's ouster."

Basindwah also criticized the United States and the United Nations' stance towards "the peaceful youths revolution in Yemen."

"We expected that the international community, especially the United States and UN to press President Saleh to step down... but unfortunately this did not happen," Basindwah told the meeting.

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday declined to say whether the U.S. government supports or opposes the plan of the embattled president Saleh to return to his country, only urging him to sign the power-transition deal initiated earlier by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

In another speech delivered during the event, the opposition tribal leader Sadiq al-Ahmar said that "Everybody here today is required to help achieve the remaining goals of the revolution."

The Yemeni government earlier warned the JMP from moving ahead to form such a council, saying this would be considered as " establishing a new state inside another state."

Saleh's ruling party spokesman Tariq al-Shami told Xinhua that "the formation of the national council of the opposition is a clear declaration of killing the GCC initiative."

A senior government official told Xinhua that "the JMP leaders are under huge pressure from Saudi Arabia and the United States to withdraw protesters from the sit-in squares and engage in a national government with Saleh's ruling party next month."

No compromise has been reached by the rivals, as the country has been embroiled in a severe political crisis since the eruption of protests against Saleh in late January. Saleh has recently vowed to deal positively with the GCC initiative despite his repeated refusals earlier.

Saleh, in a speech broadcast on the state TV Tuesday, lashed out at the opposition and promised his supporters to return to Sanaa "very soon."

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