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Amid Protests, Yemen President Vague on Transition Plan


Soldiers hold back supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh during clashes with anti-government protesters in the southern city of Taiz, Apr 22 2011

Soldiers hold back supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh during clashes with anti-government protesters in the southern city of Taiz, Apr 22 2011

Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated across Yemen, Friday, where many demanded the removal of the president who remains vague as to whether he will accept a plan for his leaving office.

In a speech outside the presidential palace in Sana'a, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he welcomes efforts of a six-nation Gulf Arab council offering to end anti-government unrest and speed up his leaving office. But he said any proposals must meet the framework of the constitution.

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh adjusts his glasses during a rally in Sanaa, Apr 22 2011

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh adjusts his glasses during a rally in Sanaa, Apr 22 2011

The president told supporters who waved flags and pictures of him that his government wanted to avoid bloodshed. He rejected what he called an attempted "coup" of freedom and democracy. He also rejected the efforts of those that he said were trying to "topple" his regime and quash the government's accomplishments.

Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency says riot police fired into the air to keep pro-and anti-government demonstrators apart in the southern city of Taiz on Friday.

Separately, Yemeni security officials say a series of attacks by suspected al-Qaida militants and tribesmen left at least 10 soldiers dead on Friday. The unrest occurred in the northeastern province of Marib.

Yemen was battling al-Qaida elements in the country and a separatist rebellion in the south before anti-government unrest erupted earlier this year.

On Thursday, the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council presented Mr. Saleh with a plan that calls for him to transfer power to a deputy, who would then form a unity government within two months.

Under the plan, ruling party members would control half of the unity government, 40 percent would be held by an opposition coalition, with the rest made up of unaffiliated parties.

Mr. Saleh said he welcomes the plan but does not say whether he will abide by it. The president has previously indicated that he will not step down until elections scheduled in 2013.

President Saleh has ruled Yemen for the past 32 years.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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