Saleh calls for reconciliation yet threatens to take extreme measures [Archives:2008/1213/Front Page]

December 4 2008

By: Mohammed Bin Sallam
SANA'A, Dec. 3 ) Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been president for 30 years, called on Yemenis to come together for the best interest of the country's unity last Tuesday on the 41st anniversary of the Independence Day from British occupation in Aden.

However, he threatened to take severe measures against those causing unrest in the country calling them “traitors” and “conspirators”.

“Here I stand in front of you all to warn those who think they can climb on board a tank and pave their way to power, that they can forget about it as we will resort to any measure until we prevail,” he said.

He stressed the importance of dialogue between all partners of the political process without referring to violence, and said that Yemeni unity shouldn't be bargaining topic.

He called for civilized dialogue, except on the issue of the national unity which is a fundamental principle where there would be no compromise.

Escalating tension

The presidential speech was again quite controversial and caused alert among intellectual spheres because it conveyed anger and great tension. Politicians commented that this is because the parliamentary elections are approaching while there is no political agreement among the various parties.

The absence of dialogue and rigid stances of the ruling and the opposition parties have rendered dialogue futile. Observers predict more of such heated speeches the ruling and opposition parties and probably more tension on the ground in terms of demonstrations and riots.

Commentaries in the local press point out that carrying out the elections despite the opposition's boycott will mean democratic failure, and that the best option will be to delay the elections until a compromise has been reached. However officials from the ruling party reject the notion of a postponement claiming that it would mean loss of the party's legitimacy and credibility among its supporters.

However, with the deterioration of living conditions and depression among the people -especially in the southern governorates- there is great risk that violence will erupt at the first notion. In recent demonstrations, students clashed with security forces who tried to prevent them from joining rallies, but they were not deterred.

Analysts warn that if the government does not yield to the opposition's demands, which they see as justified, there will be continuous clashes in voting centers, the result of which will be the lives of innocent Yemenis and low ranking soldiers.