Signs of transition in Yemen?

June 30, 2011 at 10:48 AM

SANAA, Yemen, June 30 (UPI) -- Transferring power to the Yemeni vice president is the first step in any political transition in the country, a spokesman for the opposition movement said.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is convalescing in a hospital in Saudi Arabia from wounds suffered during a June 3 attack on his presidential compound. He has so far refused to sign a deal to step down that was brokered by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council.

Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, the foreign affairs minister in the caretaker government, was quoted by Bloomberg News as saying Saleh was starting talks on political transition with the opposition Joint Meeting Parties, southern separatists and members of the Houthi rebellion.

Mohammed Qahtan, a spokesman for JMP, told Bloomberg that Saleh should hand power over to his vice president before any other political moves are made.

"The first step should be transferring power to the vice president and then we can start talking about other issues," he said. "There is not much time to waste in talks before this step."

Saleh was expected on several occasions to return to Yemen to make public statements, though a member of the ruling party said recently he might not return for at least another week.

The embattled president has made several indications in the past he would sign the GCC deal.

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