Yemen’s embattled president, under pressure from virtually all sides to step down after more than three decades in power, has defiantly rejected a proposal by other Gulf Arab states to mediate his resignation.
In a speech to supporters in the capitol city Sanaa, Ali Abdullah Saleh denounced the mediation efforts as blatant interference in Yemeni affairs.
We reject any coup against democracy, the constitution and our freedom,” he said in a televised speech.
We were born free, and we have free will, and they have to respect our wishes. Our power comes from the power of our great people, not from Qatar, not from anyone else. This is blatant interference in Yemeni affairs.
On Thursday, the Qatari Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- a six member consortium of Persian Gulf Arab nations -- hope to reach a deal with the Yemeni president to step down.
The GCC has invited both Saleh and Yemeni opposition leaders to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to mediate a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Yemen opposition groups welcomed the Gulf countries' mediation proposal.
Despite Saleh’s refusal to step down, tens of thousands of Yemenis have assembled in Sanaa to stage more demonstrations to demand the president’s immediate removal. However, there are reportedly some pro-Saleh rallies as well. Police and military personnel have been deployed in the city center to prevent violence between the groups.
In more than two months of ceaseless protests and unrest, more than 100 people have died. The brutality of security forces against the protesters led many in Saleh’s regime to defect to the opposition, leaving him increasingly isolated.
However, the US and some western powers view Saleh as a valuable ally in their strategies against al-Qaeda.