US calls for democratic transition in Yemen
The United States on Monday called on Yemen's civilian government to initiate a transition to democratic rule following the weekend departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to Saudi Arabia, dpa reported.
Saleh left to receive treatment for injuries he suffered after his compound came under mortar attack on Friday as violence against his 32-year regime worsened. Yemeni officials insist Saleh was still the president but have given no timeframe for his return. Protesters have vowed to not allow him to come back.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said there is now an opportunity to begin the transition to democracy, but did not say whether Saleh should return to power. Power has been temporarily transferred to Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansur, who met with the US ambassador in Sana'a on Sunday.
"We believe that government that is in place now can begin that process," Toner said, saying the "overdue" move should be immediate.
The US backed a plan outlined by neighbouring Gulf countries that would have had Saleh agree to political transition with his eventual exit. But Saleh refused to sign the deal, prompted increased unrest and protests.