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Yemen opposition talks of forming unity counc -

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An opposition party coalition in Yemen has called for the formation of a unity council to stop the
wounded president's allies from taking power.


ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: Yemeni protestors are continuing to celebrate the departure of president Ali
Abdullah Saleh from the country. President Saleh was injured in a shell attack in his compound on
Friday and is recovering from Saudi Arabia from an operation to remove shrapnel from his chest. An
opposition party coalition has backed an interim transition of power to the vice president, who's
now acting leader, but only as a first step. Middle East correspondent Ben Knight reports.

BEN KNIGHT, REPORTER: Yemenis have been protesting here for months. Some of them died doing it. But
now in the bloc that they call Change Square, Yemenis are celebrating.

But officially, there's nothing to actually celebrate. The president is still the president, and
he's only temporarily passed on his powers his deputy. The regime is still in place and the
president's advisors say Ali Abdullah Saleh will be back.

ABDOU AL-JANADI, YEMENIS DEPUTY INFORMATION MINISTER: The president will return to the capital
Sanaa after he has recovered from the injuries and the burns that he suffered. He will return back
with God's will, and will come back to resume his duties according to the constitution.

BEN KNIGHT: But there don't appear to be many who do believe that Ali Abdullah Saleh will return,
or even if he does, that he'll be able to resume his post as president. The sight of Government
soldiers joining the celebrations in the square makes it look even less likely.

But there are serious questions over what comes next in Yemen.

The protestors might be cheering, but it wasn't them in the end that brought this about. It was the
military force of powerful tribal leaders, some of whom have their own designs on power. And there
are reports that president Saleh's son is still in the capital and preparing his own campaign to
take over.

The people in Change Square are not likely to be happy at the idea of replacing one hard man with
another, wherever he comes from.

One opposition leader is calling for unity to stop that from happening.

WASSEM AL-GORASHI, OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN: The Planning Committee is calling on all the national
forces and political parties to start forming an interim presidential council which will represent
all the national groups. This council should form a national government and draft a new
constitution which meets the demands of the Yemeni people for freedom and well-being.

BEN KNIGHT: Stabilising Yemen is crucial to stop it becoming a failed state and a base for
international terrorists.

Already, Islamic militants, including Al Qaeda, have managed to take advantage of the chaos in
Yemen to increase their power. Several cities and provinces are now beyond Government control, and
there are reports of sporadic fighting continuing between Government forces and tribal fighters.

Even in the capital, some demonstrators have formed citizen patrols to put an end to looting.

CITIZEN PATROLMAN (voiceover translation): We came out peacefully. We continued being peaceful. But
when security forces pulled out, we had to protect the Government buildings, the squares. The
people are subjected to danger.

BEN KNIGHT: For now, no-one appears to be making a significant move to assume power, but the world
is watching. The US ambassador has already met with Yemeni military commanders. But the country
most concerned is neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which is likely to be deeply involved in shaping
whatever the future Yemen will look like.

Ben Knight, Lateline.