Saleh to hand power to military if he quits

Saleh to hand power to military if he quits

SANAA - Agence France-Presse
Saleh to hand power to military if he quits

Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh (C) listens a Republican Guards officer during a visit in Sanaa. He pledges to give power to the army if he were to step down. REUTERS photo

Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Nov. 19 he would hand the country over to the military if he were to step down as demanded by the opposition. “We... are ready to make sacrifices for the country. But you will always be there, even if we step down,” Saleh told loyalist troops, in statements carried by the official Saba news agency.

Saleh, who has been in power in Sanaa since 1978, has come under mounting domestic and international pressure to step down in line with a Gulf-brokered peace blueprint. Saleh has welcomed the plan but has yet to formally endorse it.

 His remarks came ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting which is expected to be held today but postponed to Nov. 28. A senior envoy of U.N. said the meeting on Yemen has been postponed for a week. “The Security Council meeting was postponed to Nov. 28 at the request of the protagonists” of the Yemeni crisis, said U.N. envoy Jamal Benomar, who has been in Sanaa since last week for talks on ending 10 months of political deadlock and bloodshed.

Benomar said last week that he had made some progress on the handover. “But differences remain over the beginning of the transition -- mainly, one the powers of the vice president and the status of President Saleh.” Under the Gulf states plan, Saleh would hand over power to his vice president to head a transitional government.

The 15-member council unanimously passed Resolution 2014 on Oct. 21 condemning the government crackdown on the mass anti-government protest movement that has swept the country. Several hundred demonstrators have been killed in Yemen since anti-government protests broke out in late January.