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Saleh to return as Yemen youths urge power transfer

President Ali Abdullah Saleh is to return to Yemen within days following surgery in Riyadh for bomb blast injuries.



Sanaa: President Ali Abdullah Saleh is to return to Yemen within days following surgery in Riyadh for bomb blast injuries, his deputy said on Monday, even as protesters demanded a swift power transfer.

"His excellency is making a strong recovery and will return home in the coming days," Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi said at a meeting of the ruling General People`s Congress, quoted by Saba state news agency.

Hadi said he had spoken to Saleh by telephone.

In Sanaa, a fragile truce held despite a deadly sniper attack on loyalists of a powerful tribal chief blamed for Friday`s bomb attack which wounded Saleh as he prayed inside a mosque in his compound.

As Saleh, 69, recuperated in a Riyadh military hospital, a youths` committee that has been a key player behind the four-month uprising against his nearly 33 years of iron-fisted rule called for a quick power transfer.

The youths` committee urged "all national and political forces to begin by forming an interim presidential council ... and creating a national transitional council," in a statement.

The panel also called for the formation of a "government of technocrats" to lead the transition.

The youth group, organisers of an anti-regime sit-in demonstration at a square in Sanaa since February, encouraged Yemenis to celebrate what they hailed as "the ouster of Saleh."

"The revolution has achieved its first objective -- the ouster of Saleh," it said, adding the protesters would "continue (their) sit-in until the achievement of all goals."

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Yemen`s capital on Sunday to cheer what they said was the end of Saleh`s regime.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Cooperation Council said its proposed exit deal, by which Saleh would step down in return for immunity against prosecution, remained the "most suitable solution."

"The council member-states could activate (the proposal) and follow up on its implementation if Yemen parties agree on it," said GCC chief Abdullatif al-Zayani, whose mediation since April has met with conditions imposed by Saleh.

The parliamentary opposition has vowed to prevent Saleh`s return to power, following a crackdown on anti-regime protests that has killed at least 200 people across Yemen.

"We will work with all our strength to prevent his return," parliamentary opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan said. "We see this as the beginning of the end of this tyrannical and corrupt regime."

The president underwent two operations on Sunday, a Saudi official in Riyadh said.

"President Saleh underwent two operations that were successful. The first was to remove a piece of shrapnel from his chest, and the second was neurosurgery to his neck.

"The next procedure will be for cosmetic surgical purposes. The period of convalescence is two weeks, after which he will return to Sanaa," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The embattled president, in power in Sanaa since 1978, had flown to Riyadh on a Saudi medical aircraft late on Saturday, while a second plane carried members of his family.

His government has blamed the bomb attack on powerful dissident tribal leader Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, whose fighters have been battling government forces in Sanaa since the GCC plan crumbled last month.

Sheikh Sadiq`s office said Sunday he has agreed to a conditional truce and to pull out his forces from public buildings they seized during battles that killed nearly 140 people, following a request from Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

But even as residents reported a lull in fighting in Sanaa, snipers shot dead three of Sheikh Sadiq`s supporters in the capital on Monday, a tribal source said, blaming government troops.

Separately, two gunmen attacked a military checkpoint near Hadi`s residence late on Sunday, a military official said.

Both assailants, two civilians, and a soldier from the First Armoured Division, commanded by dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, were all killed in the attack, said the official.

Saleh`s eldest son Ahmed, commander of the elite Republican Guard, has remained in Yemen. The opposition says Ahmed was already preparing to take over from his father before the popular uprising.

On Monday, Hadi received ambassadors of Britain, France and the EU and presided over a meeting of the supreme security committee, according to Saba state news agency.

Bureau Report

From Zee News

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