Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Yemen's opposition presents president Saleh with a 'road map' for an smooth exit from power

Yemen's main opposition coalition has presented president Ali Abdallah Saleh with a 'road map' for a smooth transition of power and a graceful exit for him personally. That happened after the opposition agreed with religious and tribal leaders on a program which includes changing the constitution and rewriting election laws to ensure fair representation in parliament, open up voter registration and make politics more democratic overall. The program also demands that Saleh's relatives are removed from leadership positions in the army and security forces, and that the right to peaceful protest will be guaranteed.
Ali Abdallah Saleh
"What was presented was a road map for departure within a time frame of a month or two, or six months," said Mohammed al-Sabry, a spokesman for Yemen's main opposition coalition which includes Islamists and leftists. 'As for the people's demand for the departure of the regime, there is no going back on that,' he added.
The rotating opposition chairman, Mohamed al-Mutawakil, said the coalition was also asking for trials of those responsible for a harsh crackdown on protests in which 24 people were killed in two weeks, most in the south."We have to start the transfer of power from the person to civil society organizations, and this is a needed step to ensure a safe and peaceful exit to the situation Yemen is living in," he said, saying a transition should be completed this year.

Several thousand demonstrators turned out again in the capital Sanaa on Wednesday for what are now almost daily rallies against Saleh. In the south disturbances also continued. In the town of Sadr security forces fired tear gas and shot at hundreds of protesters, to which the demonstrators responded by setting police vehicles alight. A hospital official told the Associated Press news agency that two protesters had been shot dead. It was also reported that 30 people had been injured in clashes between protesters and armed government supporters in Hodeidah.
Meanwhile Saleh expressed regrets about the remarks he made on Tuesday about the US and Israel.  In a speech to about 500 students and lecturers at Sanaa University, he claimed the US, along with Israel, was behind the protest movement. He also alleged that opposition figures meet regularly with the US ambassador in Sanaa. However, on Wednesday, Saleh called the White House to express regret for "misunderstandings" related to his remarks about the US and Israel.

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