Yemen's Saleh says ready for polls, power transfer

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Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh
Sanaa, Sep 26: Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh on Sunday said he is ready for a power transfer through early elections, saying he is "committed" to a plan brokered by Gulf states.

"You who are running after power, let us head together toward the ballot boxes," Saleh said in a speech aired on state television on the 49th anniversary of the September 26, 1962 revolution that saw Yemen proclaimed a republic.

"We are committed to implementing the Gulf initiative as it is and signed by Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi whom we have authorised in a presidential decree." Saleh has repeatedly refused to sign the Gulf-brokered power transfer deal by which he wound hand his powers over to Hadi in return for immunity from prosecution.

On September 12, he authorised Hadi to negotiate a power transfer with the opposition.

In his televised speech today, Saleh called for "complete elections -- presidential, parliamentary, and local -- if they were agreed upon. Otherwise, we are committed to the Gulf initiative." The Gulf Cooperation Council deal was meant to be finalised in the past week. But Yemeni security forces and Saleh''s loyalists have been locked in fighting with defected army units and dissident tribesmen since last week.

The security forces have also repeatedly attacked protesters camped at Sanaa's Change Square. The violence has left 173 people dead in one week, according to figures obtained from medics, the opposition and tribal sources. 

PTI

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