Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh 311 Reu.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is willing to step down by the end of the year as part of a constitutional transfer of power, The Associated Press quoted spokesman Ahmed al-Sufi as saying on Tuesday.
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According to the report, Saleh informed Yemeni officials and military commanders of his intentions on Monday.
Sufi reportedly added that Saleh vowed never to hand over power to the military.
Saleh had rejected previous calls from the opposition to step down by year's end.
On Tuesday, Saleh said the Arabian Peninsula state could descend into
civil war because of efforts to stage what he called a "coup" against
Senior army commanders said on Monday they had switched support to
pro-democracy activists who have been protesting for weeks, demanding
that the veteran ruler stand down.
"Those who want to climb up to power through coups should know that this
is out of the question. The homeland will not be stable, there will be a
civil war, a bloody war. They should carefully consider this," he said
in a speech before commanders.
General Ali Mohsen, commander of the northwest military zone and Saleh's
kinsmen from the al-Ahmar clan, said on Al Jazeera on Monday he was
backing the protesters and himself warned of civil war if repression of
"I say clearly to the brother officers (who resigned) as a result of
weakness and media intimidation: The media has terrorized them until
they fell like autumn leaves and they shall regret it," Saleh said in
the speech, which was later broadcast on Yemeni state television.
In a separate speech to tribal leaders in Sanaa, many of whom say they
back the protesters, Saleh repeated his civil war warning and added that
the country could face disintegration.
"You have an agenda to tear down the country, the country will be
divided into three instead of two halfs. A southern part, northern part
and a middle part. This is what is being sought by defectors against the
unity," he said, referring to northern Shi'ite rebels and al Qaida
The death of 52 protesters in Sanaa on Friday at the hands of
plainclothes snipers has been the spark behind the string of defections
that threatens to finally undo Saleh's domination.