News / Middle East

Yemen President Returns, Calls for Political Truce

Supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abduallah Saleh hold portraits of the leader and chant slogans during a rally celebrating his return to Sana'a, Yemen, September 23, 2011.
Supporters of Yemen's President Ali Abduallah Saleh hold portraits of the leader and chant slogans during a rally celebrating his return to Sana'a, Yemen, September 23, 2011.

From Jasmine Revolution to Widespread Unrest

  • January 22: Students/protesters gather at Sana'a University, calling President Saleh to step-down.
  • March 1: Tens of thousands of activists demand the ouster of President Saleh.
  • March 8: The government deploys military vehicles in Sana'a, police open fire on protesters.
  • March 18: Security forces fire on protesters in Sana'a, killing at least 52 people, wounding 100+.
  • March 20-21: President Saleh dismisses his entire Cabinet, some senior military commanders join the protesters.
  • April 2-3: Opposition leaders urge President Saleh to hand over power to VP al-Hadi, he refuses.
  • April 5-8: President Saleh accepts invitation from the six-nation GCC to hold talks in Saudi Arabia with opposition representatives.
  • April 10-11: GCC foreign ministers urge President Saleh to transfer his powers to his VP.
  • April 14-15: Opposition leaders give President Saleh a two-week deadline to resign.
  • April 17-18: Thousands demonstrate across Yemen, despite facing live ammunition from government forces.
  • April 19: The U.N. Security Council meets on Yemen since the protests erupted. Russia, China reportedly prevent the council from publicly endorsing a draft statement.
  • April 21-25: The GCC presents President Saleh with a plan for ending the political impasse.
  • April 30-May 1: Main opposition coalition accuses President Saleh of refusing to sign the Gulf agreement, as required by the plan.
  • May 15: Main opposition coalition says the GCC plan to end the country's political crisis is "dead."
  • May 21-22: Opposition says it has signed a Gulf-brokered deal that would see President Saleh's transfer of power within a month. Saleh denounces the proposed deal as a "coup."
  • May 23-26: Deadly gun battles break out in Sana'a between security forces, oppostition tribesmen take control of several government buildings.
  • May 27: Opposition tribal leaders say they are talking with the government, cease-fire is in effect. International calls continue for Saleh to leave office soon.
  • June 3: President Saleh, five other Yemeni officials are wounded in a rocket attack on the presidential compound in Sana'a.
  • June 4: President Saleh's forces, oppostion forces accept a Saudi-brokered cease-fire. A truce negotiated a week earlier quickly deteriorated. Saleh flies to Saudi Arabia for treatment. VP Hadi takes over.
  • June 5: Celebrations in the capital, Sana'a, after word spreads that President Saleh left the country.
  • July 7: President Saleh delivers his first video address since traveling to Saudi Arabia for treatment, his faced darkened from severe burns, bandages visible on his hands.
  • July 17: Tens of thousands of people rally, waving flags, chanting anti-Saleh slogans, on the 33rd anniversary of President Saleh's autocratic rule.
  • July 19: Mainstream opposition coalition announce a new alliance to unite all anti-Saleh forces, days after youth groups, activists form their own 17-member "transitional council."
  • August 7: President Saleh is discharged from a Saudi hospital, moved to a Saudi government residence.
  • August 9: State-run news agency announces President Saleh will return to Yemen, despite international calls for him to handover power.
  • August 16: President vows to return to Yemen soon, expresses a willingness to transfer power to a deputy in an effort to bring peace to the country.
  • August 17: Anti-government activists meet in Sana'a, elect a 143-member "national council" that will explore ways of taking power from President Saleh.
  • August 23: PM Megawar returns from Saudi Arabia, becoming the first senior official to return home after being injured in the June assassination attempt of President Saleh.
  • September 12: Saleh authorizes his deputy to begin talks with the opposition, gives authority to VP Mansour to sign off on a GCC plan to transfer power, and to allow a coalition to form a national unity government. A GCC representative left Yemen with no word of a deal.
  • September 18: Clashes between pro-Saleh forces and opposition forces escalate, resulting in the death of almost 100 people.
  • September 23: President Saleh returns to Yemen, calling for a truce, talks to end his country's political crisis.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned to Yemen Friday, after nearly a week of sporadic clashes between his opponents and Republican Guard forces, led by his son.

Saleh left the country for treatment in neighboring Saudi Arabia in early June after being injured in an attack on his presidential palace.

Supporters of Saleh honked their car horns and shouted slogans after his arrival in the Yemeni capital around dawn Friday.

Hours after returning, he called for a truce and talks to end his country's political crisis.

Seleh had been in the Saudi capital Riyadh since early June, when he was seriously wounded in an explosion during Friday prayers at the presidential palace.

Many Yemenis had not expected him to come back and his return caught some off guard.

While backers welcomed the news, opponents of Saleh gathered in large numbers in the capital's “Change Square,” as well as in the central city of Taiz, after Friday prayers.

Analyst Abdel Raqib Mansour told Al-Hurra TV that Saleh's return will inflame passions on both sides.

He says that Saleh's return should give a boost to his supporters and embolden his opponents who have been calling for him to stand trial. He added Saleh's coming home will likely enflame the political tensions in the country.

In recent days, Yemen's political parties said they were working on a plan to force Saleh out of power.

Earlier this week, representatives of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) met with Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in Sana'a in an attempt to revive a long-stalled plan that calls for Saleh to hand over power to a deputy.

Saleh has agreed to the proposal three times since April. Each time, he backed out before a deal could be signed.

Stephen Steinbeiser, who heads the American Institute for Yemeni Studies in Sana'a, says Yemeni's are waiting for Saleh's next move.

“Every single person that I've talked to has a different opinion, whether they're loyalists to the president or part of the opposition. I think it depends really on what he wants to do. If he chooses a path of more confrontation," he said.

"Then things will escalate very quickly.... I suspect that he will try to regain control of the situation, and it may not be as violent as it has been,” he added.

Steinbeiser says that it would be an “auspicious time” for Saleh to finally sign the GCC agreement to step down, since next week marks the anniversary of a 1962 revolt against a hereditary ruler of the country.

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