Saleh to speak on TV, UN launches Yemen mission

AFP , Tuesday 28 Jun 2011

UN mission to examine human rights situation in Yemen as media team heads to Saudi Arabia to record an interview with Saleh to be viewed after Thursday

Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a rally of supporters in Sana'a, April, (Reuters).

President Ali Abdullah Saleh is to speak on television within days to reassure Yemenis on his health, three weeks after being hospitalised in Riyadh with bomb blast wounds, a senior official said Tuesday.

A United Nations mission, meanwhile, started a 10-day visit to examine the human rights situation in Yemen after five months of street protests against Saleh and deadly clashes with security forces.
"A team from Yemeni television headed to Riyadh on Monday to carry out an interview with the president, expected to be aired after Thursday," the deputy information minister, Abdo al-Janadi, told AFP.
"In this interview, Saleh will address the Yemeni people to reassure them about his health," said Janadi.

Saleh, 69, was flown to the Saudi capital on June 4 for treatment from wounds suffered in a bomb explosion as he prayed at the mosque of his presidential compound in Sanaa.
The veteran leader, who has faced nationwide street protests since January against his 33-year autocratic rule, has not appeared in public following the attack that killed 11 people and wounded 124, among them senior officials.
The ruling General People's Congress party, on its website, said he would address "the coming phase in Yemen and the steps expected for political reform" in his statement on television.

On his return from Riyadh, Saleh's adviser Abdel Karim al-Iriani said on Monday that the embattled president was in "good health and spirits," but without giving further details.
Iriani said he had discussed "several national issues" with Saleh who gave him the "necessary directives."

In his absence, Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has come under pressure from the parliamentary opposition and the West to assume power, while protesters demand he form an interim ruling council.
But Janadi has ruled out any transfer of power in Yemen while Saleh remains hospitalised in Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, a mission sent by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights landed in Sanaa, after the Security Council last week expressed "grave concern" over the violence in Yemen, state news agency Saba reported.
They were to start by meeting Saleh's son Ahmed who commands the elite Republican Guards, his nephew Yehya who heads the central security services, and Tariq, another nephew controlling the presidential guard, a team member told AFP.
The delegation were also to hold talks with Hadi and with powerful dissident tribal chief Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, whose fighters were locked in more than a week of deadly clashes with Saleh's troops that ended earlier this month.

Medics and tribal sources say at least 300 people were killed in the battle which rocked Sanaa, prompting scores of residents to flee to neighbouring towns and cities.
Rights activists, opposition members and victims of violence were also lined up to meet with the UN mission, which plans to visit medical and detention centres.
Janadi urged the UN mission "not to be biased towards certain parties... We hope the committee would seriously investigate what was going on in the sit-in squares across Yemen."
Anti-Saleh protesters have camped in cities across the country since February. At least 200 people have been killed by troops loyal to Saleh in the anti-regime protests.

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