Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Saturday he would hand the country over to the military if he were to step down as demanded by the opposition.
“We… are ready to make sacrifices for the country. But you will always be there, even if we step down,” Saleh told loyalist troops, in statements carried by the official Saba news agency.
The news agency said Saleh made the remarks during an inspection of the Republican Guards, an elite army corps led by Saleh’s son Ahmed.
Saleh, who has been in power in Sanaa since 1978, has come under mounting domestic and international pressure to step down in line with a Gulf-brokered peace blueprint.
Saleh has welcomed the plan but has yet to formally endorse it.
His remarks came ahead of a UN Security Council meeting due on Monday to discuss Saleh’s refusal to hand over power under the Gulf plan in return for immunity from prosecution.
The council unanimously passed Resolution 2014 on October 21 condemning attacks on demonstrators by Saleh’s forces and strongly backing the Gulf Cooperation Council plan.
Several hundred demonstrators have been killed in Yemen since anti-government protests broke out in late January.