Yemen’s Injured President Gives First Video Address

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 2:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh delivered his first video address on Thursday since traveling to Saudi Arabia to be treated for injuries from a June attack on his palace compound.

During the recorded address, Mr. Saleh said he suffers from burns and had undergone more than eight operations in the neighboring kingdom. Television video showed bandages on his hands.

Mr. Saleh gave no indication that he plans to step down in spite of almost daily protests by government opponents over the past five months and international pressure to resign.

The president addressed anti-government unrest during his brief speech, saying he supports dialogue between the various political entities in his country. He added, as he did before being injured, that he welcomes power sharing “within the constitution.”

The president, who turned over powers to a deputy before departing, gave no indication on when he would return to Yemen.

Thousands of Yemenis have rallied across the country for months, demanding President Saleh’s ouster. A series of defections by security forces also have taken place since anti-government protests began in February.

Mr. Saleh has resisted international efforts and initiatives by Gulf neighbors to end the political stalemate and set a timetable for his leaving office.

Meanwhile, unrest continues in the country continued as two attacks in southern Yemen left 12 soldiers dead.

Officials say suspected al-Qaida militants fired on a vehicle near the city of Lawdar, late Wednesday, killing 10 soldiers.

Elsewhere, Yemeni officials say two soldiers were killed and several civilians wounded in the city of Taiz, where tribesmen have been fighting forces loyal to President Saleh.

Separately, Yemen state news reports said Thursday that military forces killed a regional al-Qaida leader and several associates in clashes near the southern city of Zinjibar.