Yemen’s Saleh Makes First Appearance Since Blast

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has made his first public appearance since an attack last month left him severely burned.

In a television message from Saudi Arabia and aired over Yemeni state TV, a badly burned Saleh said he will not back down from the opposition’s attempts to overthrow his government. “We will face the challenge with a challenge,” said Saleh, whose face appeared burned. The 69-year-old ruler was among several high-ranking officials badly injured on the June 3 attack on the presidential palace. After the incident, Saleh and his fellow victims were brought to Saudi Arabia. Saleh said doctors in Saudi Arabia have performed eight surgeries to help him recover from the injuries he sustained.

Protesters backed by several opposition groups have been calling for Saleh’s ouster for more than four months now. However, Saleh’s administration has rejected opposition proposal that a transition government be formed prior to the holding of a democratic election. Instead, Saleh, Yemen’s ruler since 1978, said in his television message that he is willing to allow the opposition to join his government to the extent allowed by the country’s constitution.