Eid Ul-Fitr Presidential Message Preps Yemenis for Elections

Aug 30, 2011, 10:15 by R.E. Christian

Yemen's embattled president said in a message marking the end of Ramadan his country should prepare for elections to choose a new leader.

Saleh is clinging to his 33-year grip on power despite mounting pressure to resign. He's in Saudi Arabia recovering from wounds suffered during a June 3 attack on his presidential compound. His aides say he'll return to Yemen once an investigation into the bombing is completed.

In statements marking Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, the president said his country was committed to finding a way out of the simmering political crisis.

He said Yemenis were "committed" to various initiatives proposed by Gulf states and members of the Security Council to "as soon as possible � arrange to hold general and free and direct elections for the new president of the country," according to statements published by the official Saba news agency.

In the past, he's said he was the legitimate leader until the next round of elections, which were scheduled for 2013.

He's faced stern criticism from Washington for not signing a deal for his resignation offered by the Gulf Cooperation Council in exchange for immunity. Saleh, according to Saba, authorized his ruling General People's Congress to hold talks with the Yemeni opposition, GCC members, and Western diplomats "for agreeing on an operational mechanism to apply the GCC initiative and sign it without procrastination or delay."

Source: UPI