Yemen's influential clerics urge VP to form post-Saleh interim ruling council
Some 108 Yemeni clerics Saturday urged wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh, being treated in Riyadh, to relinquish power and called on the acting president to form transitional council and hold presidential elections within 60 days, Xinhua reported.
"We called on those officials who are familiar with the real situation of Saleh's health condition to reveal the fact to the Yemeni people, especially after Vice President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was assigned as acting president in accordance to the Yemeni constitution," they said in a statement, obtained by Xinhua.
"Therefore, the acting president should form an interim ruling council to run the country in the post-Saleh period and prepare to hold presidential elections within 60 days," the influential clerics said in the statement they released following a gathering with opposition leaders and powerful tribal leaders.
Saleh, 69, was injured in an bomb attack that hit his palace on June 3. A day later he was airlifted to the Saudi capital for treatment. Government officials have constantly reaffirming that Saleh's health condition is improving and he would return back within days.
However, some foreign diplomats in Sanaa said that wounded President Saleh is due to transfer power officially to his vice president Hadi within two weeks.
The embattled president has confronted five-month-long protests demanding immediate end to his 33-year rule, triggering fierce clashes between protesters and his supporters that left hundreds of people dead.
The clerics included Yemen's most powerful Islamic scholar Sheik Adbul-Majid al-Zindani, who is regarded by the U.S. as a spiritual mentor of late Osama Bin Laden.
In the statement, the clerics also repeated their rejection to any foreign military interference on the Yemeni soil, in reference to the U.S.-run unmanned drones that sporadically raided terrorist groups in south Yemen, warning of implementing their months-old fatwa (religious order) of waging holy war against meddling country.