June 18, 2013
Talks between Yemeni opposition and government stall
Talks between Yemen's vice president and the opposition stalled today after the country's acting leader ignored the opposition's demand that President Ali Abdullah Saleh quit immediately.
Saleh, forced to seek medical treatment in Saudi Arabia for wounds suffered in an attack on his palace earlier this month, has refused to leave office despite nearly six months of street protests and several diplomatic attempts to remove him.
Fresh clashes broke out in the southern province of Taiz after the army advanced on militants who attacked them and destroyed several armored vehicles, a local official said.
In Zinjibar – the provincial capital that fell to Islamists – a security source said Yemen's army killed two al Qaeda militants and injured several others today, while one soldier was killed and a further seven injured.
Political paralysis and long-standing conflicts with Islamist insurgents, separatists and rebel tribesmen have fanned Western and regional fears of Yemen collapsing into chaos and giving al Qaeda a stronghold alongside oil shipping routes.
A member of a group of opposition parties calling on Saleh to step down said the country's vice president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi declined to discuss the president's fate.
"Security, food and electricity issues were discussed," said Sultan al Atwani, referring to the shortages that have all but paralyzed the capital in the aftermath of fierce battles between Saleh's forces and a general who turned on him.
"The political side was not discussed, because the other side said it still needed time and was preoccupied with those matters, as well as the ceasefire," he said.