Clashes unravel Yemen ceasefire

Clashes unravel Yemen ceasefire

6 killed as violence returns to Sanaa

The violence raises fears over the potentially explosive situation after the wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh left the country, creating a deep power vacuum.

Saleh’s departure over the weekend brought celebrations by the crowds of protesters who have been trying for months to oust him after nearly 33 years in power. But so far Saleh seems determined to return and continue to wield power after he underwent surgery in neighbouring Saudi Arabia for wounds suffered in a rocket attack on his compound.

In his absence, opposition parties were trying to quickly lock Yemen into a post-Saleh transition, pressing for the revival of a US- and Saudi-backed initiative. Under the deal, Saleh would officially step down, a unity government between his ruling party and the opposition would be formed and new presidential elections held within two months.

But in the past weeks, Saleh refused three times to sign the deal, and officials in his regime said on Monday nothing could be done without his approval, even while in Saudi Arabia.

Saleh still powerful

Saleh still has a powerful presence on the ground to back his hand: his sons and nephews, who command Yemen’s strongest military units and who remain in the country.

Their forces remained deployed around Sanaa on Monday, locked in a tense standoff with the tribal fighters who rose up two weeks ago to oust Saleh. The fighting rocked the capital, killing dozens, until a ceasefire was brokered by Saudi King Abdullah as Saleh flew for treatment.

Saleh remains the “unchallenged” president of the republic, Deputy Information Minister Abdu al-Janadi said. “Saleh is on medical treatment trip and he will return as soon as he can to Yemen.”

Amid the uncertainty, the ceasefire appeared shaky. Gunmen — apparently pro-Saleh forces — attacked tribal fighters loyal to Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar on Monday.

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