Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh vowed Tuesday to return home from Saudi Arabia, The Associated Press reported.
According to the report, the move could set off a violent new phase in the country’s six-month uprising seeking to topple Saleh’s regime.
Saleh has been recovering in Saudi Arabia from wounds suffered in an assassination attempt in the mosque of the presidential palace in Sanaa.
Speaking Tuesday in a televised address from the Saudi capital, Saleh vowed to return home, saying “see you soon in Sanaa” and lashing out at his opponents, whom he called “exploiters, war merchants, and street looters.”
Other than the medical white gloves covering his burnt hands, noted the report, Saleh seemed to have recovering. His face appeared to have healed from the burns and he moved comfortably and confidently in front of the camera.
There were speculations that Saleh may not return to Yemen after his recovery, with Yemeni officials blaming the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for pressuring him to stay away from his country.
However, a report last week in Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency announced Saleh will return to his country after a recovery period determined by his doctors. Tuesday’s television appearance seems to confirm this.
Saleh did not refer to a power-transfer deal which offered him immunity from prosecution if he steps down. He has three times agreed to the deal and backed out on each occasion at the last minute, possibly due to a lack of trust in the deal being carried out.
Saleh would only say that he is willing hand over power to his vice president if the armed tribal fighters who support the protesters are pulled from the streets and the opposition ends its demonstrations.
Earlier on Tuesday, a leading opposition leader in Yemen called on Western countries to freeze Saleh’s assets, saying, “They should do what they did in Egypt. We don’t need what is going on in Libya. We don’t need that much support. But support like what was done in Egypt would be sufficient enough to finish things.”