President Saleh says he never refused to sign Gulf initiative

SANA’A, Nov. 15 (Saba)- In an interview with FRANCE 24, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he intended to step down within 90 days of reaching a deal on a power transfer plan that aims to end the political crisis in the country. "When the Gulf initiative is agreed upon and signed and when a time frame is set for its implementation, and elections take place, the president will leave,” President Saleh said in the interview. The President said also he had given power to Vice-President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi to negotiate a deal with the opposition on the formation of a transitional government and organising future presidential elections. Saleh confirmed he has "never refused to sign the Gulf initiative" but wanted to "read it and work on a mechanism" to implement it. “I already wanted to leave power in 2006,” Saleh said, citing “exceptional circumstances” that forced him to remain as the head of state. “I have been in power for more than 33 years in Yemen. I’ve overcome lots of problems, there’s been fascinating moments. But as far as I’m concerned anyone that hangs onto power is a madman.” The President also defended his record and continued to insist that he has clung to power in order to fight off the threat of regional and international Islamic terrorism. “We have overwhelming evidence that the opposition is working with al Qaeda,” Saleh said. He also discredited the Arab revolts in neighbouring countries, claiming the movements were backed by "small states" in the region that lacked influence and were vying to assert themselves. “These countries are sending troublemakers and mercenaries of all kinds. In reality these countries are not supporting Arab revolutionaries. They are seeking to undermine the Arab regimes and their interference is undermining national unity that is fuelling chaos in the region,” Saleh said. Asked about the overthrow and death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, President Saleh said “I didn’t like the way he died, but that was his fate”. Saba