[QODLink]
Middle East
US envoy urges speedy transition in Yemen
Jeffrey Feltman calls for Yemeni president to sign Gulf exit deal after meeting senior government figures in Sanaa.
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2011 10:29
Feltman met on Wednesday with Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the vice president of Yemen [EPA]

A senior US state department official has called for an "immediate" transfer of power in Yemen after a meeting with the country’s vice president and acting leader.

Jeffrey Feltman, the US assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, told reporters on Thursday that Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh should approve a quick transition to a new government.

"We continue to believe that an immediate, peaceful, and orderly transition is in the best interest of the Yemeni people," Feltman said. "We urge all sides to engage in dialogue that peacefully moves Yemen forward."

Feltman again endorsed a plan created by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), under which Saleh would relinquish power within 30 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Saleh refused to sign the deal on several occasions.

An unnamed Yemeni official told the Reuters news agency that his government would only sign the agreement if nationwide popular protests stop.

"The American side insisted on implementing the [GCC] initiative and then removing areas of tension," the source said, referring to the protests which continue across the country.

"The Yemeni side demanded that areas of tension be removed first, and then they will implement the initiative."

An 'imminent' return?

Feltman's remarks came after a meeting on Wednesday with Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Yemen’s vice president. Hadi has been at least nominally in charge of Yemen since Saleh travelled to Riyadh for medical treatment earlier this month. Saleh was injured in an explosion at his palace mosque.

It is unclear just how much power Hadi has, though: Several of Saleh's powerful relatives - including his son Ahmed, the commander of the Republican Guard - are still in Yemen and reportedly making many of the decisions.

Officials from the ruling General People's Congress have insisted for weeks that Saleh's return is imminent. Ahmed al-Soufi, a senior adviser to Saleh, said on Tuesday that the president would return this weekend.

But previous predictions of Saleh's return have proved false, and the president himself has not made any public appearances since traveling to Riyadh.

He reportedly suffered from burns over 40 per cent of his body, a collapsed lung, and other injuries, and underwent several surgeries in Saudi hospitals.

General Ali Mohsin, the commander of Yemen’s first armoured division and a longtime rival of the president, said in an interview with the New York Times that he was unsure if Saleh planned to return.

Feltman also met on Wednesday with Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, Yemen's foreign minister.

His visit coincides with a prison break in the southern city of Mukalla, in which 40 inmates escaped - some of them allegedly members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are keeping a close eye on local supporters of the hard-line Middle East group.
Wastewater ponds dot the landscape in US states that produce gas; environmentalists say they’re a growing threat.
China President Xi Jinping's Mongolia visit brings accords in the areas of culture, energy, mining and infrastructure.
An estimated 36 people die each day in embattled town where pro-Russia rebel separatists fight Ukrainian soldiers.
People are starving in southern Somalia while relief efforts are blocked by government and rebel fighting.
join our mailing list