Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh
Source: Press TV
Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh says that he is ready to hand over power to prevent more bloodshed in the country but only to what he called "safe hands."
Addressing his supporters in Sana'a on Friday, Saleh once again invited the opposition to enter political dialogue and expressed willingness to transfer power peacefully through constitutional institutions.
The Yemeni president, however, failed to give indication of when he would be stepping down or on what conditions.
“We don't want power, but we need to hand power over to safe hands, not to sick, resentful or corrupt hands ... We are ready to leave power but only for safe hands”, Saleh said in a televised speech.
This is while tens of thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in another part of the capital for a "day of departure" rally demanding his immediate ouster.
"You are the ones who will be handed power," Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years, told his supporters.
Saleh also vowed to fight the escalating campaign to force him out of office by "all possible means" and urged his supporters to "stand firm."
“We are against firing a single bullet and when we give concessions this is to ensure there is no bloodshed. We will remain steadfast and challenge them with all power we have,” the Yemeni president said.
Since the beginning of anti-Saleh demonstrations, nearly 100 protesters have been killed and many others have been injured during clashes with Yemeni security forces and regime vigilantes.
Last week, more than 50 protesters were gunned down near Sana'a University, the epicenter of anti-government protests in the capital.
That bloodshed prompted a string of army commanders, including Major General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, diplomats and tribal leaders to abandon Saleh and join the opposition severely weakening his position.