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Saleh vows return to Yemen

Tribesmen celebrate in Yemen's second-largest city Taez (Taiz), a flashpoint of anti-regime demonstrations south of the capital Sanaa, on June 5, 2011, as hundreds of people took to the streets to celebrate the departure of long term President Ali Abdullah Saleh, wounded in a blast June 3, and who left for treatment in Saudi Arabia. UPI\Mohammad Abdullah
Tribesmen celebrate in Yemen's second-largest city Taez (Taiz), a flashpoint of anti-regime demonstrations south of the capital Sanaa, on June 5, 2011, as hundreds of people took to the streets to celebrate the departure of long term President Ali Abdullah Saleh, wounded in a blast June 3, and who left for treatment in Saudi Arabia. UPI\Mohammad Abdullah | License Photo

SANAA, Yemen, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- President Ali Abdullah Saleh vowed to return to Yemen and charged the anti-government movement wanted to return Yemen to its pre-independence days.

Saleh, recuperating in Saudi Arabia from burns he sustained in an attack on the presidential palace in June, also said he was committed to conducting elections, but not before 2013 as demanded by the opposition, CNN reported Tuesday.

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On the day Saleh's videotaped comments played for a tribal conference, at least 26 people, mostly civilians, were killed in fighting in the Arhab district, CNN reported.

In the video, Saleh highlighted the government's plans for decentralizing power, which he said was an intermediary step to amending the constitution "to hold direct elections and give local authorities more power," a transcript of the speech provided by the state-run SABA news agency indicated.

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"We must discuss all the available data, all the events in Yemen, and how to get our country out of the crisis -- the crisis which was fabricated by some political forces to reach power," Saleh said. "We welcome the opposition and tell them that you can reach power through ballot boxes, not through coups, statements, denunciation, insults or irresponsible speeches."

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Saleh also warned the nation's youth against joining opposition groups -- whom he called "minor remnants of Marxists and secessionists" -- the Taliban and those whom the president said wanted to reintroduce rule by imams.

Tribal leaders said at least 45 tanks and armored vehicles were seen entering Arhab villages Tuesday, CNN reported.

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"The government is fighting its own people using aircraft and tanks to kill us," tribal leader Ahmed Abu Ghanem said.

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