Last updated: 5 November, 2011

Yemen’s Saleh makes Eid plea for peace

President Ali Abdullah Saleh made a fresh appeal Saturday for dialogue “for a peaceful transition according to the constitution”, while accusing the opposition of blocking attempts to end the crisis that has shaken Yemen for the past 10 months.

In a message marking the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha, Saleh invited the opposition to “sit at the negotiating table to resolve disputed questions related to the implementation” of a transition plan drafted by Gulf monarchies.

The opposition has been calling since January for the ouster of Saleh, who they accuse of nepotism and corruption, but the strongman has refused to step down despite pressure from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the UN Security Council.

Saleh has repeatedly said he is committed to the GCC plan, under which he must quit power 30 days after signing the deal in exchange for immunity from prosecution, but he has so far failed to live up to his pledges.

Peaceful protests have degenerated into battles between rival army troops, security forces and protesters, and between security forces and tribesmen, leaving hundreds of people dead across the impoverished country.

Yemen officials have told AFP that Saleh is trying to negotiate a modification of the initiative to ensure he remains president until early elections are called.

In his address on Saturday, Saleh, who has been in power for 33 years, accused the opposition of blocking a resolution of the crisis “which has been provoked by some parties who want to take power through illegitimate means.”

“The change cannot come through chaos, violence and the culture of hatred or seditious plots,” Saleh said, appealing to the Gulf monarchies to “support the security and stability of Yemen.”

On October 21, the Security Council passed a resolution calling on Saleh to immediately sign the deal and quit.

The resolution, unanimously agreed by the 15 members, “strongly condemns” deadly government attacks on demonstrators and backs the GCC peace plan.

Saleh’s refusal to hand over power since his return from medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for wounds received in a June bomb attack and fears about the growing influence of Al-Qaeda have heightened international concern about Yemen.