Britain ups pressures on Yemen's Saleh
British Foreign Secretary William Hague called Tuesday called for Yemen to begin an immediate political transition, heaping pressure on the country's embattled president to cede power.
Hague's remarks came a day after Washington called for an "immediate transition" of power after President Ali Abdullah Saleh's went to Saudi Arabia at the weekend to be treated for injuries sustained in an attack on his palace.
An aide to Saleh, whose 33-year-old regime is teetering after four months of protests, has said the leader will return home within days but there are fears that his return would deepen the crisis in the violence-wracked nation.
"The situation in Yemen is extremely uncertain following President Saleh's departure to Saudi Arabia to receive medical treatment and his transfer of authority to the vice president," Hague told lawmakers in the British parliament.
"We urge the vice president to work closely with all sides to implement the Gulf Cooperation Council agreement and to begin political transition now."
The deal brokered by the regional Gulf Cooperation Council bloc would see Saleh cede power to an interim administration within 30 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Saleh, a wily operator who since 1978 has bought off tribal loyalties and stitched them together into a governable framework, has refused to sign the accord and warned that his departure would only serve to boost Al-Qaeda.
Hague also reiterated his call for British nationals in Yemen to "leave the country immediately by commercial means while it is still possible to do so," adding that it was unlikely Britain would be in a position to evacuate its citizens.
In Yemen on Tuesday, a tribal leader said the country's second-largest city Taez had fallen to armed dissidents as protesters in Sanaa called for a "millions march" to thwart plans by Saleh to return to power.
Fighting also raged between Yemeni troops and suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen at the gates of Zinjibar, the southern city which has fallen under the jihadists' control.
© 2011 AFP