x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Saleh's injuries mean no return to Yemen for two months, says diplomat

Even if the Yemeni president wanted to return from Saudi Arabia tomorrow, 'it is impossible because his burns are serious and he needs to stay at a specialised clinic – Saleh is politically dead' says Western diplomat.

A Yemeni girl holds a poster showing President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and shouts slogans during a rally in Mr Saleh's support in Sana'a. Mohammed Al Sayaghi / AP Photo
A Yemeni girl holds a poster showing President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and shouts slogans during a rally in Mr Saleh's support in Sana'a. Mohammed Al Sayaghi / AP Photo

SANA'A // A Western diplomat said yesterday that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh was "politically dead" and would not return to Yemen for at least two months because of his injuries.

Mr Saleh is recovering in Riyadh from wounds he sustained during a bomb attack in a mosque in his Sana'a compound on June 3. There has been widespread speculation on when Mr Saleh would return to Yemen and how serious his injuries are.

Even if Mr Saleh wanted to return to Yemen tomorrow, "it is impossible because his burns are serious and he needs to stay at a specialised clinic for treating burns. Being a diabetic makes it difficult for his burns to heal quickly", the diplomat said.

He also said Mr Saleh inhaled heat and dust from the blast and is barely able to speak. Also, he is unable to stand because of an injury to one of his legs.

Even if Mr Saleh makes a full recovery, his days in power are already over, the diplomat said.

"Saleh is politically dead and even if he returns to Yemen, he will not be able to appear in public" because he was disfigured in the blast. "However, he does not know or does not want to accept this new reality and he is still clinging to power and refuses to step down," he said.

Tarik Al Shami, spokesman of the ruling General People's Congress, said Mr Saleh was recovering and his condition was "fine". "Such allegations on the health of the president are meant to spread panic among the people," Mr Al Shami said yesterday.

Government officials have repeatedly said that Mr Saleh's health was improving each day. Last week, officials from the Saleh regime said Mr Saleh would make a televised address from Riyadh, although that never happened.

Yemen has been brought to a standstill by protests since January against Mr Saleh's nearly 33-year rule.

malqahi@thenational.ae