Saleh opponents accuse his party of hampering transition
SANAA - Opponents of ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen's new coalition government accused members of his party of trying to hamper political transition in the country, a statement said on Thursday.
Two days after all but two members of Saleh's General People's Congress (GPC) walked out of a cabinet meeting, his opponents charged that GPC figures were behind "smear campaigns" against Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa.
These campaigns "reveal non-national inclinations that aim to harm national reconciliation and the missions of the unity government," said the statement by the Common Forum, an alliance of long-time Saleh opponents.
The 34-member unity cabinet, appointed in December in accordance with a hard-won transition deal, has equal numbers of ministers from the GPC and the Common Forum alliance.
The alliance criticised what it called "the destructive policies of the former regime (that has ruled) over the past 33 years," referring to Saleh's years in power.
Under the terms of the Gulf-brokered agreement which he signed with the opposition in November, Saleh gave up the Sanaa presidency that he had held since 1978.
But he retains the leadership of the GPC and aides have not ruled out his standing in a contested presidential election due to be held alongside new parliamentary polls in 2014.
The alliance also urged "the honourable members of the GPC to take part in building Yemen and denouncing those with destructive policies who are calling for division" between Yemenis.
The statement called onto all parties to facilitate transition "instead of causing problems and crises."
On Tuesday, all but two ministers loyal to Saleh, who quit as president last month under the hard-won transition deal, walked out of a cabinet meeting.
The move was part of "attempts by Saleh to cause the failure of the consensus government," said one source close to President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
Over the past week, the pro-Saleh press has stepped up its criticism of Basindawa's government and in a speech last week the former president accused it of being "weak" and of "not understanding anything about politics."
A cabinet source had said that Saleh had telephoned Basindawa personally and "threatened" his government.
And witnesses claimed that Basindawa had described Saleh and his aides as "senile" in a speech he gave last Sunday.