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Yemen facing collapse, opposition says

May 10, 2011 at 4:40 PM

SANAA, Yemen, May 10 (UPI) -- There will be "catastrophic consequences" in Yemen if the country's president doesn't agree to an Arab deal for his departure, an opposition leader said.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is clinging to power despite a popular uprising that has endured for much of the year. He balked on a plan brokered by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council to step down in exchange for immunity.

Yasin Said Numan, a former Yemeni prime minister and secretary-general of the opposition Socialist Party, told Bloomberg News the country was facing a collapse unless the GCC plan was implemented.

He said the country would have to move quickly to start the logistics needed for new presidential elections within 60 days of a signing of the GCC deal.

"The people in the streets are refusing any delay," he said. "If there is a delay, we will witness catastrophic consequences."

Saleh on Tuesday restated his commitment to dialogue as the best way to avoid further bloodshed in his country, the official Saba news agency reports.

U.N. officials, the news agency said, have encouraged Saleh to have direct dialogue with all parties in Yemen, stressing only Yemenis could broker a solution to the crisis.

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