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Yemeni Protesters Announce Transitional Council




Published: Jul 16, 2011 19:54 Updated: Jul 16, 2011 20:00



Youth protesters in Yemen unilaterally announced Saturday a transitional council to run the country as President Ali Abdullah Saleh's supporters geared up to celebrate on Sunday the 33rd anniversary of his accession to power in 1978.


The Youth Council of the Yemeni revolution announced a 17-member council apparently as a viable alternative to Saleh's troubled regime.The council includes veteran dissidents and defected generals.


Government spokesman Abdu Al-Janadi said the council's formation would worsen the crisis in Yemen and described it as a coup against the constitution. He said Saleh is "the legal, democratically elected president and an alternative will only come though elections, not through an illegal coup."


The protesters chose Gen. Abdullah Ali Aliwah, who recently supported the uprising, as a general commander of the army. Opposition figures such as Haidar Al-Attas and former President Ali Nasser Mohammed were also selected as members of the council.


Tawakel Karman, a protest leader, called on the international community to respect the youth's decision and end all cooperation with the Saleh regime. Karman said the council will soon choose a leader who will appoint a shadow Cabinet of technocrats. The council will also announce a 501-member "national assembly" that will draft a new constitution.


Karman said the body seeks to "protect the unity of the country before it completely collapses." When asked how the new body will exercise any power while Saleh's government remains in place, she said it would count on "revolutionary victory."


Mohammed Al-Mutawkil, an opposition leader and a member of the council, said he was informed about his nomination to the council an hour before the announcement. "My early objection about the council is that there is not a single woman in the council. Now I cannot accept or reject the proposal and I need some time to meet the protest leaders."


It was not clear whether the new council would win support from a coalition of mainstream opposition parties also seeking to overthrow Saleh. They have also called for a transitional body.


Saleh is in Riyadh for medical treatment following an assassination attempt on June 3. Amid conflicting reports about their leader's condition, Saleh's supporters were planning celebrations for Sunday. Al-Janadi said that the president could return from Saudi Arabia if his doctors allowed him to leave hospital.


Al-Janadi also said the United Arab Emirates has pledged 3 million barrels of oil to Yemen, which faces a fuel crisis due to attacks on a pipeline during the unrest. He did not give details about the delivery of the oil from the UAE.


Saudi Arabia last month donated 3 million barrels of crude to Yemen and several deliveries have already been made to a refinery in Aden to help ease fuel shortages.


A blast on the small, non-OPEC producer's main pipeline in March, for which angry tribesmen were suspected, has stopped the flow of crude to the refinery.

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