Whatever happens in Saudi Arabia over the coming days will decide the course of the next chapter in the Yemeni power struggle: President Ali Abdullah Saleh, having received treatment in a hospital in Riyadh, has already announced plans to return to Yemen. In Sanaa, the deputy Yemeni Information Minister Abdu al Janadi said that Saleh was in good health and would return; "one day" he would leave office in a manner provided for by the constitution.
A Saudi government spokesman said that Saleh would be able to resume his official duties in two weeks' time. Although it is not at all certain that Saudi Arabia will allow the patient to return to Yemen as President in the coming weeks.
Saleh had over recent weeks repeatedly snubbed the Saudis by refusing to accept their proposals for a dignified exit from power. Saleh's future now lies in their hands. In any case, as the power struggle persists, the ones winning the upper hand have been those working closely together with Saudi Arabia: the Ahmar family for example, which presides over the Hashed tribal confederation, and General Ali Muhsin al Ahmar, who maintains close ties with the Saudi Crown Prince and Defence Minister Sultan Bin Abdalaziz Al Saud.
But Saleh is not about to relinquish his position of his own volition. The satellite news broadcaster al Arabiya reported that the Saudis and the Americans had tried on Saturday evening to persuade the President, before his departure for Saudi Arabia, to sign a decree transferring powers to his deputy Abdurrabbo Mansur Hadi during his absence. During the negotiations, which went on for hours, Saleh reportedly refused to do this and would only agree to issue a verbal assurance.
By Rainer Hermann (translated from German by Nina Coon)
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