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Yemeni president warns of Al-Qaida takeover if he leaves office
Sana’a, May 21 (Agencies):
Published on 21 May. 2011 11:40 PM IST
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Yemen’s president has denounced a U.S.-backed Gulf nations proposal for him to step down as a “coup,” and warned that his departure could allow al-Qaida to take over parts of the country.
In a speech Saturday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said the terrorist network would gain control in several provinces, including Hadramout, Shabwa and Abyan - all areas where al-Qaida’s Yemen-based wing has been active.
Addressing his comments to Yemen’s “friends” in the United States and European Union, he said the situation in Yemen would be worse than it is now.
Despite his criticism of the twice-stalled Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal, Saleh indicated Saturday that he would go along with it. News reports quoted officials as saying the GCC secretary general was expected in Yemen Saturday, with the opposition planning to sign Saturday night and Saleh set to sign on Sunday.
The Gulf-brokered deal offers Saleh immunity from prosecution if he transfers power to a deputy within 30 days of signing.
The Yemeni leader has faced months of anti-government protests demanding he end his 30-year rule. His government has responded to the demonstrations with a bloody crackdown.
In his speech Saturday, Saleh charged that funding for the protests had come from Yemen’s Gulf neighbors.
On Friday, Saleh called for early elections during a speech to supporters in the capital Sana’a, as thousands of protesters renewed demands for his immediate resignation. But he did not specify when the voting would take place.
The GCC plans to meet on Sunday to discuss Yemen’s political crisis. Ministers in the six-nation council will meet in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

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