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Tens of Thousands Stage Opposing Rallies in Yemen's Political Crisis

A female anti-government protestor, center, reacts while chanting prayers along with other women during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Taiz, Yemen, Friday, July 1, 2011

Tens of thousands of Yemenis staged opposing rallies Friday for and against President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is recovering from injuries suffered during an attack last month.

Opponents of President Saleh packed areas of the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, while supporters publicly pledged their loyalty in separate demonstrations elsewhere in the city.

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Earlier this week, Yemen's acting leader, Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, told CNN that President Saleh was so severely wounded in an attack on his presidential compound in early June that it is uncertain when he will return from Saudi Arabia, where he is undergoing medical treatment.

Hadi said he saw Saleh immediately after the bomb attack and that the Yemeni leader had a piece of wood in his chest and burns to his face, arms and upper body.

He said it "could be months" before Saleh returns and that the decision is up to his doctors.

On Wednesday, Yemen's main opposition turned down the government's request to hold talks on a regional plan for a transition of power.

The U.S.-backed Gulf Cooperation Council initiative calls for Saleh to give up power in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The Yemeni president has agreed to the deal three times in recent months, refusing at the last minute each time to sign an accord.

Opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan said the country's dire economic and security situation does not allow for more meetings and negotiations. He said Saleh should immediately transfer power before any dialogue can take place.

Thousands of Yemenis have rallied across the country, demanding President Saleh's ouster. A series of defections by security forces also have taken place since anti-government protests began in February.

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

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