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Yemen's President Saleh ready to cede power

Responding to popular protests in his country, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has said he would be ready to cede power to 'safe hands.' Meanwhile, protests in Syria continue to gain strength.

Protesters in Yemen

Protests in Yemen have grown over the last six weeks

Six weeks of protests in Yemen against President Ali Abdullah Saleh may be starting to have an effect on the country's leader.

Speaking at a rally of supporters on Friday, Saleh said he would be ready to concede power to avoid more bloodshed.

"We don't want power, but we need to hand power over to safe hands, not to sick, resentful or corrupt hands," Saleh said in the capital, Sanaa.

Several thousand Yemenis took to the streets in renewed protests against the government and Saleh, a week after around 50 people were killed at a demonstration when gunmen fired upon crowds.

"The government cannot just shoot its way out of this crisis," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, earlier this week. "Whether in uniform or in plain clothes, security forces must be immediately stopped from using live ammunition on unarmed protesters."

Seeking solutions

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Saleh would be ready to hand power to 'safe hands'

Western countries are concerned that al Qaeda could exploit any weakness in Yemen's government to expand in the country.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, however, warned against military involvement in the Arab world, such as the allied effort in Libya to enforce a no-fly zone there to protect civilians.

"In the end, long-term solutions can only be found politically," Westerwelle said Friday in Berlin.

Meanwhile, protest movements in Syria have also continued to gain strength, despite an announcement Thursday by President Bashar al-Assad to concede more freedoms to the population. However, violence sparked by protests across the country on Friday left at least 23 dead.

Friday's attacks are the latest in the government's crackdown of protesters in Syria.

Author: Matt Zuvela (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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