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Conflicting reports about Saleh's return

In this photo taken Friday, April 29, 2011, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh waves to his supporters during a rally in Sanaa.

Source :  Agencies
SANAA | 17 Jun 2011

Yemen's president plans to return home within days after treatment in Saudi Arabia for serious injuries in an attack on his palace, Yemeni officials said Friday, but Agence France Presse quoted a Saudi official as saying Ali Abdullah Saleh will not go back home.

Saleh was badly burned in the June 3 blast at his palace, which wounded other members of Yemen's senior leadership and killed at least 11 guards. In his absence, Yemen's opposition parties have sought to persuade the ruling party to join them in a transitional leadership that would effectively shut out Saleh, who has resisted tremendous pressure at home and abroad to step down.

But loyalists have insisted the president will return and resume his duties, and Saleh's powerful son Ahmed, who commands some of the country's best trained military forces, has remained behind in Yemen to help maintain his father's hold.

Ruling party official Yasser Al-Yamani said plans to welcome the embattled leader are under way. "He will return home after medical reports said he is getting better," he told The Associated Press Friday.

A statement quoting a presidential official said Saleh would return "in days."

But the Saudi official, who did not want to be identified, told AFP: "The president will not return to Yemen. It has not been decided where he will stay." He was apparently suggesting that Saleh might eventually leave Saudi Arabia for another country.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in what has become a regular outpouring after Friday prayers. Crowds cried out for Saudi Arabia to keep their president out of Yemen.

Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has been Yemen's acting president since Saleh left for Saudi Arabia. But Saleh's family and inner circle, who head elite security forces, are believed to wield significant power.

In the restive southern city of Taiz on Friday, Republican Guard forces loyal to Saleh clashed with gunmen protecting protesters in the city center overnight. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

The city's entrances were heavily guarded, preventing anyone from entering or leaving, witnesses said.


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