Skip to main content

Yemeni opposition forms council to take power

By Hakim Almasmari, CNN
A Yemeni anti-government protester holds a drawing calling for the trial of President Ali Abdullah Saleh on August 12, 2011.
A Yemeni anti-government protester holds a drawing calling for the trial of President Ali Abdullah Saleh on August 12, 2011.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The council is expected to pick a president and executive committee soon
  • The group will be called the National Revolution Council
  • The president has been urged to step down in an orderly transition
RELATED TOPICS

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN) -- Yemen's opposition groups announced the formation of the National Revolution Council Wednesday, the first significant move toward forming a new government in Yemen.

The move comes amid efforts to replace President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his embattled government.

The council will have 143 members from a range of political factions, including political figures abroad and in exile.

Its main mission will be to end the Saleh regime and ensure that its demands be met. The council will seek recognition from world and regional powers as the sole representative of Yemen.

The Yemeni political crisis started January 16, when youth protesters took to the streets demanding Saleh's resignation. Today, protests continue in the majority of Yemen's provinces.

Saleh, who has been faced with widespread anti-government sentiment and militant activity, has been urged to accept a political transition plan that will lead to his departure.

He has been in Saudi Arabia for treatment of wounds he suffered in an assassination attempt June.

Mohammed Qahtan, the spokesman for the opposition Joint Meeting Parties, welcomed the powerful step on the council formation and insisted that Yemen is going in the right direction.

"The national council will speed the process of change in Yemen and will end all government efforts in forcing the country to enter a phase of violence," said Qahtan.

The council is expected to meet later in the week to choose a president and a 20-person executive committee to run the affairs of the "Yemeni revolution," said Qahtan.

Sakhr Wajeeh, a senior opposition official and member of the council, said the doors are still open for more political figures and sides to enter in order to ensure that the council represents all the Yemeni people.

"This council is key to the success of the Yemeni revolution and all parties must be involved and active in order to lead the country towards prosperity," said Wajeeh.

The Houthi Shiite rebels, who control the northern Saada province and are a strong force in Yemeni politics, were not involved in the national council; they refused to join. However, they are still in dialogue with opposition officials on receiving membership to the council.

The council will gradually work on convincing the international community to acknowledge it as a legitimate representative of the Yemeni people.

"This is step one, and if the regime does not accept peaceful transition of power, we will call on the international community to change its stance on who represents the Yemeni people," said Ahmed al-Bahri, a senior opposition Haq party official.

The conference was held at Sanaa University, just meters away from Change Square, where youth protesters have set up camps demanding a regime change. Protesters insist that Saleh's family stand trial for crimes committed against Yemenis.

Part of complete coverage on
'Sons of Mubarak' in plea for respect
Pro-Mubarak supporters believe Egypt's former president is innocent of charges of corruption and killing protesters.
Timeline of the conflict in Libya
Fighting in Libya started with anti-government demonstrations in February and escalated into a nationwide civil war.
Who are these rebels?
After months of seeming stalemate, Libyan rebels declared they were moving in on Tripoli. But who are they?
Why NATO's Libya mission has shifted
Six months and more than 17,000 air sorties after it began, NATO's Operation Unified Protector in the skies over Libya grinds on.
Interactive map: Arab unrest
Click on countries in CNN's interactive map to see the roots of their unrest and where things stand today.
Send your videos, stories
Are you in the Middle East or North Africa? Send iReport your images. Don't do anything that could put you at risk.
Libya through Gadhafi's keyhole
Behind the official smiles for the cameras some people in Libya's capital are waiting for the rebels, reports CNN's Ivan Watson.
How Arab youth found its voice
Tunisia's Mohamed Bouazizi not only ignited a series of revolts but heralded the first appearance of Arab youth on the stage of modern history.