US pressures Saleh to leave Yemen
SANAA - Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been threatened by UN sanctions for obstructing peace, is under pressure from the United States to leave the country, his party said Wednesday.
Saleh, who was forced to step down in early 2012 after a year of Arab Spring-inspired protests, received an ultimatum from the US embassy in Sanaa to leave by Friday or face sanctions, the General People's Congress said.
"This is blatant interference in the internal affairs of Yemen," a spokesman for the party was quoted as saying in a statement.
"It is an unacceptable demand because no foreign party has the right to request that a Yemeni leaves their country."
The party said it had been approached by the American embassy through an intermediary telling Saleh to leave Yemen by 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Friday.
It called on Saleh's supporters to mobilise in order to "face any eventuality".
The US embassy in Sanaa declined to comment on the claim.
The development came only hours after diplomats in New York said the United Nations Security Council was poised to impose sanctions on Saleh for obstructing peace in Yemen.
A US-drafted proposal to the Security Council would slap a visa ban and an assets freeze on Saleh and two of his allies, Shiite Huthi rebel commanders Abd al-Khaliq al-Huthi and Abdullah Yahya al-Hakim.
A committee of the council met on Tuesday to discuss the proposed sanctions and the talks were "constructive," a diplomat said.
The 15 members of the council now have until Friday evening to raise objections before the proposal returns to the sanctions committee for action.
Saleh served as Yemen's first president after unification in 1990 before being forced to step down in February 2012 under a regional peace plan.
But he is seen as prime backer of the rebel Huthi movement that seized the capital Sanaa in September and has since spread its control into central and west Yemen, in defiance of a UN peace plan.
Also on Wednesday, Shiite rebels killed an Algerian man and wounded a Frenchman in Sanaa, a security source said.
A Western diplomat said the men were both Salafist students and residents of the capital.