x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Saleh demands rivals to leave for 'sake of Yemen's stability'

Ousted Yemen president's new condition appears to be an excuse to remain in the country despite the provisions of a Gulf nations-brokered handover of power he agreed to.

SANAA // Ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh has demanded that 10 of his military, political and tribal rivals leave the country with him for the sake of Yemen's stability.

His new condition appears to be an excuse to remain in the country despite the provisions of a Gulf nations-brokered handover of power he agreed to in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and many members of his regime.

His continued presence in the country is seen as undermining the power of the new president, Abdrabu Mansur Hadi, and a plan to transition to democracy within two years.

Mr Saleh said on Wednesday "elements of the Yemen crisis" must leave the country, based on a deal he struck with some of them last year as part of the transition of power.

"It was agreed upon that all of them would give up power for the sake of stability and security of Yemen," the statement said, referring to a meeting last March in Hadi's house, during which Mr Saleh proposed that he and the rest of his opponents leave the country.

A major figure he wants out is General Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar, who defected with his troops to join the protest movement, demanding Mr Saleh's ouster.

The former leader's list also includes the two leaders of the Islamist Islah party and some anti-Saleh tribal leaders.

"The Gulf initiative and the peace deal and its implementing mechanism are very clear and his proposal is nonsensical. He is no more [able] to set conditions," said Mohammed Qahtan, an Islah leader.

"He wants his sons and relatives to stay in the country to play a mess."

Despite the peace deal, it remains unclear whether Mr Saleh will bow out quietly, diplomats and analysts say.

They are pressing home to leave so the country can move on to a peaceful democracy.

After a recent statement by My Saleh that the revolt against him was a "revolution of the thugs and backwardness", the protest movement announced this week it would intensify its protests.

They are demanding the ouster of Mr Saleh's sons and relatives from the government as well as the prosecution of Mr Saleh and those involved in the killings of hundreds of protesters.

malqadhi@thenational.ae

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