Yemen's leader to defy West and return
Published 07/06/2011 | 05:00
Yemen's injured president is to defy the West by returning to the country "within days", his deputy said yesterday, triggering fears of a bloody showdown.
Ali Abdullah Saleh's determination to leave his hospital bed in Riyadh threw into jeopardy an internationally backed plan to rescue Yemen from civil war.
For weeks, Mr Saleh has been under pressure from Saudi Arabia to hand power to his vice president, Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi, as part of a US-backed transition plan.
The Saudi royal family believed it had got its way after Mr Saleh was forced to seek treatment in the kingdom for wounds sustained during an artillery attack on his palace.
But to irritation in Washington and Riyadh, Mr Mansur has refused to take power.
Yesterday, he met the US ambassador and senior European envoys to insist Mr Saleh did not intend to surrender the office he has held for 33 years.
"His excellency. . . will return home in the coming days," Mr Mansur said after the meeting.
For the past fortnight, military units loyal to Mr Saleh have fought with militiamen loyal to Sadeq al-Ahmar, a powerful tribal chief.
The president's return is almost certain to restart the violence and draw more tribes into the conflict. (©Daily Telegraph, London)