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Sunday, July 3, 2011     GET REAL

Saudis block speech, return by Yemen's Saleh

ABU DHABI — Saudi Arabia has decided not to allow Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to return to power this year.


Yemeni sources said the Saudi kingdom plans to keep Saleh in a hospital in Jedda for at least the next few months. They said Saudi authorities have asserted that Saleh requires medical treatment after surgery that he underwent on June 5.

"He is not fit to go home and must undergo serious treatment, including plastic surgery," a Yemeni source said.

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The source said Saudi physicians have told the Yemeni president that he required treatment for burns suffered from a rocket attack on his compound in Sanaa on June 2. The physicians also helped persuade Saleh that he should not address the Yemeni people with his face covered in burns.

Saleh has sought to return to Yemen to continue his duties as president. His spokesman, Ahmed Al Sufi, said Saleh had been scheduled to give a television address to Yemen by June 29, an appearance that never took place.

"He has been able to communicate with his family back home, but his activities have been severely restricted by the Saudis," the source said.

The sources said the Saudi royal family appealed to Saleh to abdicate power amid the revolt in Yemen. They said Saudi King Abdullah has promised Saleh asylum in the Gulf Cooperation Council kingdom.

Saleh's son, Ahmed, has been operating the military and security forces in the president's absence. In late June, Ahmed was said to have ordered the arrest of up to 50 officers, most of them from the Republican Guard, on suspicion of contacts with the opposition.

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