After more than three months in Saudi Arabia, President Ali Abdullah Saleh returned to Yemen September 23rd. But a political settlement remains elusive in the impoverished state on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, as tens of thousands of demonstrators continue to take to the streets across Yemen calling for President Saleh to step down. More than 140 have been killed in the past two weeks in fighting between government forces and fighters loyal to the opposition. Yemen has been the site of Arab Spring's longest popular uprising where protesters have camped in tent cities and attended mass rallies every Friday for eight months.
The United States remains deeply concerned about the situation in Yemen. All parties should cease violence and exercise maximum restraint. The U.S. supports the Gulf Cooperation Council's call for the formation of a committee to investigate events that resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians. Too many Yeminis have lost their lives and each day that passes without a peaceful and orderly transition is another day that the Yemeni people are forced to live in an unstable environment that threatens their security and livelihood.
The Yemeni government must immediately address the democratic aspirations of its people. The Yemeni people have made clear their desire for a peaceful and orderly transition that is responsive to their calls for peace, reconciliation, prosperity, and security.
A political solution is the best way to avoid further bloodshed. Gulf Cooperation Council members and Yemini officials are trying to revive a long-stalled transition plan under which President Saleh would hand over power. President Saleh has agreed to the Gulf Cooperation Council proposal on three separate occasions, only to refuse subsequently to sign the agreement each time.
The United States again urges President Saleh to initiate a full transfer of power without delay and arrange for presidential elections to be held before the end of the year within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative. The Yemeni people have suffered enough and deserve a path toward a unified, stable, secure, and democratic Yemen. The United States will continue to work with the Gulf Cooperation Council and others in the international community to support the Yemeni people's aspirations.