Government and opposition political parties in Yemen welcomed an invitation from the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) Tuesday (April 5th) for them to hold talks in Riyadh to end the country's political crisis.
"We welcome, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Yemen, this resolution, and confirm the Yemeni government's readiness to discuss any ideas offered by our brothers from the Gulf Co-operation Council to move beyond the status quo," caretaker Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said in a statement released by Saba, the official news agency.
Opposition leaders, however, agreed to participate only if the talks focused on a transfer of power, and if the dialogue were held with the next president.
The GCC foreign ministers, in the final communiqué of their ministerial meeting held Sunday in Riyadh, called for the concerned parties in Yemen "to prioritise the national interest and promptly return to the national dialogue, agree on national goals and necessary reforms, and reach a comprehensive agreement that would restore peace and achieve what the Yemeni people are seeking in terms of reform, and a secure, stable and dignified life".
Tariq al-Shami, spokesman for the ruling Congress Party, told Al-Shorfa that the Yemeni president has repeatedly called for dialogue over a peaceful transfer of power according to the constitution.
Mohammed Qahtan, the spokesman for the opposition Joint Meeting Parties, told Al-Shorfa, "The opposition welcomes the talks for the transfer of power as well as dialogue but with the next president".
Qahtan said, "The consent of the opposition came after clashes and attacks by the authorities against peaceful demonstrators, and each passing day blood is being spilled."
Qahtan's statement follows ongoing confrontations between protesters and security forces in Taiz province, which has led to dozens of deaths and injuries in the past few days. Sit-ins by young demonstrators and the opposition, who are calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh's immediate resignation, also continue in public squares in Yemen's 15 provinces.
"The president must leave and hand over power to a vice president who is not a member of his family, and we will sit down and talk with the vice president," Qahtan said, referring to the recent initiative presented by the opposition Saturday, which called for dialogue about a transition period after Saleh transfers power to his deputy.
Mohammad al-Sabri, a spokesman for the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue, told Al-Shorfa, "We welcome the position of the GCC, which respects the will of the Yemeni people who are demanding the president's resignation, and we support any effort by any party, whether they are local, Arab or international that respects the will of the people." He added, "The decision today is in the hands of the people and the youth who are in the squares. The opposition does not claim guardianship over them, and we are not authorised to speak on their behalf."
The Coalition for the Revolutionary Youth announced that it rejects any initiatives unless they aim to transfer power and require the president to step down immediately.
Fahd al-Munifi, a leader of the group, told Al-Shorfa, "The chief demand of the Revolutionary Youth is the president's resignation and (removal) of his relatives from power. Any initiative in this regard would be welcome."