SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Senior protest figures in Yemen on Saturday announced the formation of a shadow government they say will prepare to run the country should the embattled regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh collapse.
The move seeks to create a united leadership for the protesters who have filled public square across Yemen for five months, calling for an end to autocratic ruler’s 32-year reign. Still, Saturday’s announcement is unlikely to increase pressure on Saleh significantly.
The new body highlights the gap between Yemen’s protesters and Yemen’s official opposition parties, who protesters say were late in joining the anti-regime rallies inspired by those in Tunisia and Egypt. Many protesters criticize the parties for seeking to negotiate Saleh’s exit instead of trying to bring down his entire regime.
Abdu al-Janadi, a spokesman for Saleh’s government, said the move “pours gas on the fire.”
He said that Saleh is “the legal, democratically elected president, and an alternative will only come though elections, not through an illegal coup.”
Opposition party officials declined to comment.
Protest leader Tawakul Karman announced the formation of a transitional presidential council to reporters in Sanaa on Saturday . The 17-member body includes a number of former ministers, one former prime minister, business people and civil society leaders.
Karman said the council will soon choose a leader who will appoint a shadow Cabinet of technocrats. The council will also announce a 501-member “national assembly” that will draft a new constitution.
Karman said the body seeks to “protect the unity of the country before it completely collapses.” When asked how the new body will exercise any power while Saleh’s government remains in place, she said it would count on “revolutionary victory.”
Saleh has managed to cling to office despite the mass protests and an attack on his palace that left him badly injured. He has been in treatment in Saudi Arabia since June 5. His aides say he plans to return to Yemen soon.
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