Yemen ruler ready to step down

SANAA - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah said on Friday he was ready to cede power, the ruler who may be forced out by popular protests.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Sat 26 Mar 2011, 9:43 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:25 AM

Saleh said he would cede power only into “safe hands” and Yemeni political sources said talks were under way to work out the details of a peaceful transition.

But in Syria, protests challenging the rule of President Bashar Al Assad spread across the country after security forces killed dozens of demonstrators in the south.

“The barrier of fear is broken. This is a first step on the road to toppling the regime,” said Ibrahim, a middle-aged lawyer in the southern Syrian city of Deraa. “We have reached the point of no return.”

Saleh’s departure would present a new challenge to Western countries already embroiled in a week-old military intervention in Libya, amid fears that instability in Yemen could open the way for Al Qaeda to expand its power there.

“We don’t want power, but we need to hand power over to safe hands, not to sick, resentful or corrupt hands,” said Saleh, who had come under intense pressure to quit since snipers fired on anti-government protesters a week ago, killing 52 people.

A source close to top general Ali Mohsen said he and Saleh had discussed a deal in which both men and their families would leave Yemen, while political sources said broader talks were underway on a political transition.

A diplomat in the capital Sanaa, however, said it was premature to discuss an outcome. “It can go either way.”

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