A Very Different-Looking Saleh Makes First Appearance Since Attack

The Yemeni president criticized those who want him to step down

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Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh appeared on television today for the first time since he was injured in an attack on his palace in early June. In a pre-recorded clip aired on Yemen state TV, Saleh adopted the defiant tone he's often employed during the country's fourth-month uprising, claiming that he's amenable to dialogue with the opposition and to power sharing "within the constitution" but that those who are pressuring him to step down have an "incorrect understanding of democracy," according to Al Jazeera. State TV showed Saleh supporters celebrating with fireworks in Sanaa after the speech concluded.

More striking than Saleh's words, however, was his appearance. The president, who said he'd undergone a staggering eight operations while in Saudi Arabia, sat stiffly, his face burnt and his arms and hands heavily bandaged (just compare Saleh's appearance before the palace bombing, on left, with his appearance more than a month after, on right). Yemenis "heard a damaged voice and saw an injured man, a contrast from the resolute persona the longtime ruler exuded," CNN writes. Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros thinks opposition figures will be disheartened by the speech, noting "they were watching this message to try to figure out if he is going to come back and if there is going to be some kind of transition of power." Al Jazeera adds that some diplomats doubt Saleh will manage to return. Meanwhile, the country's destabilizing political impasse persists.
Here is a clip of the speech:
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.