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Yemen opposition calls on Saleh's family to be removed from authority


The national – Sanaa –By : Mohammed al Qadhi – London”adenpress’

Many opponents of the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh believed their revolution was almost won when he left for Saudi Arabia to be treated after an assassination attempt last month.

What they did not reckon on were Mr Saleh's son, Ahmed, who is leading the Republican Guards and living in the presidential palace, and his nephews, who are now in charge of key military and security services.

While the vice-president, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, has been performing many of Mr Saleh's duties, the president's family members have kept him from full, albeit temporary, presidential authority.

In a statement last night, the opposition called for an end to the "hijacking of power" by Mr Saleh's relatives.

Ahmed al Zurkah, an independent analyst and freelance writer, said yesterday: "The son and nephews of the president are controlling the most influential portion of security and army forces, which enabled them to be an important card, particularly after the involvement of the opposition in a fruitless political process.

"This process has also boosted their position on the ground after their position was so weak in March and their overthrow was possible. The opposition missed that golden chance."

Protesters in Sanaa yesterday called on Saudi Arabia to hand over Mr Saleh for prosecution and demanded the removal of his relatives from positions of authority.

The ruling General People's Congress yesterday said it regretted the opposition's decision to increase tensions, calling on it to return to talks. The power split between the Saleh relatives and Mr Hadi has led to an increase in violence and a worsening humanitarian situation. This has led to the international community raising pressure on Mr Saleh and his relatives to begin an immediate transition of power to Mr Hadi.

John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief, flew to Saudi Arabia to meet Mr Saleh on Sunday and persuade him to hand over power after six months of protests.

Mr Brennan urged Mr Saleh to sign the transfer agreement quickly and said "assistance will flow to Yemen" when the deal was carried out, the White House said in a statement.

"The United States believes that a transition in Yemen should begin immediately so that the Yemeni people can realise their aspirations," it said.

Yesterday, Mr Brennan met Mr Hadi and Ahmed Saleh in Sanaa, where he briefed them and military leaders on his meeting with the Yemeni president and stressed the importance of an immediate transition of power, a government source said.

Mr Saleh had told Mr Brennan a GCC initiative laid the groundwork for exiting the political crisis through national talks involving all political parties, the state-owned Saba news agency reported.

But Mr Saleh has backed out three times from signing a transition plan in which he would step down.

Under the plan, the vice president would formally take power, a unity government would be formed with the ruling and opposition parties and elections would be held within two months.

Yesterday, Tarik Al Shami, a spokesman for the General People's Congress, said: "Any transfer of power should be only through election. We need to have a timeline for implementing the GCC plan."

Michele Cervone d'Urso, the EU ambassador to Yemen, yesterday joined the call for Mr Saleh to immediately transfer power to Mr Hadi.

"The GCC initiative is the only way forward to the Yemeni crisis that has been mutually agreed by both sides," Mr d'Urso said.

"The GCC, EU and USA have developed a unique model of regional co-operation under the auspices of the relentless work of the GCC secretary general, and closely co-operate with and fully support the GCC initiative.

"In Yemen, we are promoting a negotiated political transition and only this can prevent the escalation towards violence. The most important issue now is to see an immediate peaceful transition and for this to happen, the president should transfer authority to his deputy and launch an irreversible process."

Mr d'Urso said Mr Hadi "seems committed to implement the GCC plan. However, he needs to receive full authority from the president and not have his hands tied.

"We meet regularly with the ruling party and the relatives of the president and reiterate that the ruling party should remain a political force to be reckoned in the new Yemen, and they need to play a constructive role in this process and ensure the party can be effective once transition begins."


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