Yemen’s president plans to return home within days after treatment in Saudi Arabia for serious injuries in an attack on his palace, officials said, as hundreds of thousands of his opponents rallied in the streets Friday to say he would not be welcome back.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh was badly burned in the June 3 blast at his palace, which wounded other members of his senior leadership and killed at least 11 guards. In his absence, Yemen’s opposition parties have sought to persuade the ruling party to join them in a transitional leadership that would effectively shut out Saleh, who has resisted tremendous pressure at home and abroad to step down.
But loyalists have insisted that the president will return and resume his duties, and Saleh’s powerful son Ahmed, who commands some of the country’s best trained military forces, has remained behind in Yemen to help maintain his father’s hold.
Ruling party official Yasser al-Yamani said plans to welcome the embattled leader are under way.
“He will return home after medical reports said he is getting better,” he said Friday.
A statement quoting a presidential official said Saleh would return “in days.”
“The Yemeni president will not return to Yemen,” the Saudi official told AFP, requesting anonymity.
“It has not been decided where he will stay,” the official added, apparently suggesting that Saleh might eventually leave Saudi Arabia for another country.
The official did not specify whether the decision not to return home was taken by Saleh himself.