Militant attacks raise fear of Yemeni power vacuum
Militants clashed with the Yemeni army in a southern town yesterday, fuelling Western fears that the country could descend into chaos which would benefit al-Qa'ida if President Ali Abdullah Saleh is forced out.
The army tried to dislodge a coalition of Islamists from Jaar in Abyan province after they seized buildings on Saturday. One soldier was killed yesterday and jets flew over the town later, but it was not clear if Sana'a had reasserted government control.
Abyan is seen as a stronghold of al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni wing of the network, which Western countries and neighbouring Saudi Arabia fear could take advantage of any power vacuum if Mr Saleh resigned immediately.
The president, under pressure from tens of thousands of Yemenis protesting to demand his departure after 32 years in power, convened a meeting of his ruling General People's Congress party yesterday. A party source said its central committee, which contains thousands of members, had asked Mr Saleh to stay in power until 2013, when his presidential term expires. One of the president's first concessions when protests began in February was to say he would not seek another period in office beyond that date.
In an interview aired by Al Arabiya television at the weekend, Mr Saleh said he was prepared for a dignified departure at any stage but that opposition parties were hijacking the protests to demand he quit without organising a democratic handover.
"I could leave power ... even in a few hours, on condition of maintaining respect and prestige," the president said. "I have to take the country to safe shores ... I'm holding on to power in order to hand it over peaceably."
Washington and Saudi Arabia have backed Mr Saleh as their man to stop al-Qa'ida from expanding its foothold in a country many political analysts say is close to collapse.
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
New York police shooting: thousands turn out for the funeral of Rafael Ramos
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...