Yemen opposition says no to joining unity government

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SANAA – Yemen’s opposition said it will not join a unity government, expected to be offered by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, saying on Monday it was sticking with popular demands that he end his three-decade rule. Saleh had expressed willingness to form a unity government within hours during a meeting with religious leaders on Monday, a government source present at the meeting told Reuters.
The source quoted Saleh as saying: “I am ready to offer a national unity government within hours and I am asking the opposition to name its representatives in the government.” Saleh, a US ally against Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing, has been struggling to quell daily demonstrations that have swept across the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, leaving 24 people dead in the past two weeks. Yemen’s opposition, already planning countrywide protests on Tuesday, said it would not accept such a proposal.
“The opposition decided to stand with the people’s demand for the fall of the regime, and there is no going back from that,” said Mohammed al-Sabry, a spokesman for Yemen’s umbrella opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Party. Opposition to Saleh, previously fighting intermittent Shia revolt in the north and separatist rebellion in the south, grew under student- and activist-led protests galvanised by successful uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.
The activist movement attracted support from some of Yemen’s main tribal groups as well as the opposition coalition. A second opposition official said a unity government offer from Saleh would not be seen as sincere because no actual reforms had been implemented. “We’ve heard this before … His objective is to try and neutralise the anger he is facing in the streets,” said Abdulmoez Dabwan. “We will not consider joining such a government before our demands are met. The priority is for the president to purge the army of his relatives and cronies, and start setting up structures for fair elections,” he said.