Yemen president says he will step down

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has made vague comments that he is willing to leave power in his first major speech since returning to Yemen, but he gave no concrete plan for the future of the country. Yemen's opposition cast doubt that the embattled leader was serious.

It was not the first time Saleh has expressed a willingness to step down amid eight months of mass protests demanding his ouster. Still, he has repeatedly refused to resign immediately and rejected a US-backed deal for him to hand over his authority.



Saleh was gravely wounded in an explosion at his presidential palace in June, after which he left to Saudi Arabia for treatment. During his absence, mediators and opposition groups sought to convince him to stay away and transfer power to his deputy — a way to launch the regional power transfer deal. Saleh declined and returned abruptly to Yemen late last month.



A violent crackdown against Saleh's opponents followed, with outright street battles in the capital Sanaa between troops loyal to Saleh's son Ahmed and dissident military units and pro-opposition tribesmen. In the meantime, the longtime leader has come under considerable pressure from the international community to step down.



His new declaration Saturday aired on state TV gave little clue to his intentions.



Saleh spoke to a gathering of lawmakers, his hands encased in beige medical gloves for the treatment of burns from the June bombing. He didn't shake hands with any of his guests, who instead, shook the hands of his deputy standing by his side.



"I never wanted power. I will reject power in the coming days. I will give it up," he said. "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 or give any firm commitment to resign. Saleh said he would meet with parliament in the coming days to "transparently discuss" the situation in Yemen.



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 claims that he plans to transfer power to a member of his family. "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 the president's nephews control powerful military units, and Ahmed has long been seen as Saleh's heir apparent.



The president said he returned from Saudi Arabia with "an olive branch and a dove of peace" but said his opponents failed to seize it or understand it. He also said that a major country had asked him to not to return to Yemen, a request he said he declined.



"I am not a 'transit' president," he said.



Opposition members were skeptical of Saleh's comments. Mohammed al-Sabri, an opposition spokesman, said the president's words were intended to generate headlines ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting Tuesday that is to discuss the failed efforts to convince Saleh to sign the power transfer deal.



"If the president was serious and is convinced that the public no longer wants him, he should do it today and not tomorrow," al-Sabri said.



Al-Sabri also claimed Saleh's speech was addressed to the West because it was aired at a time when there was no electricity in Yemen, and no one would be watching. Electricity in Sanaa has been sporadic — sometimes off for as long as two days at a time — since fighting flared last month.



"The Yemeni people are used to his lies. He has often promised things and never lived up to them," he said. "This is turning into a rerun for a soap opera."

AP

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim footballer acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster