Yemen’s state news agency said wounded President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has not been seen in public since a rocket attack on the presidential palace, spoke by telephone with Saudi King Abdullah Tuesday.
Yemen’s ambassador in London said Saturday that he was stable and recovering from burns and shrapnel wounds, a theme repeated in state media in subsequent days.
Two members of his Cabinet wounded in the attack were in a worse condition and required more surgery.
Yemen’s Gulf neighbors pledged Tuesday to renew efforts to avert civil war on their doorstep over the fate of Saleh, who is clinging to power after months of protests against his rule.
Gulf states have tried repeatedly and in vain to broker an exit for Saleh, forced to seek treatment in Saudi Arabia for injuries suffered in an attack on his palace earlier this month.
The failure of the most recent bid in May triggered two weeks of fighting that smashed up parts of the capital and fanned Western and regional fears of Yemen slipping into chaos and giving Al-Qaeda a stronghold alongside oil shipping routes.
The Gulf Cooperation Council, a bloc of monarchies neighboring Yemen, has seen Saleh back out of deals it struck to ease him from office three times. Its members promised Tuesday to pursue attempts to resolve Yemen’s political crisis.
“We have exerted together a major effort to … restore the situation in Yemen and for sure our efforts will continue in that matter,” Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the United Arab Emirates foreign minister, said at a GCC meeting in Jeddah.
Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar, a leader of Yemen’s powerful Hashed tribal confederation, parts of which have turned against Saleh, said Vice-President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, the acting leader, must allow a transitional government to take shape.
“Constitutionally … he must bear his responsibilities and go forward with them until the transitional period,” he told Al-Jazeera.
Meanwhile, a bomb killed a military officer loyal to Saleh in Burayqa near the southern port of Aden, an official said Tuesday.
The explosion tore through the car of Col. Muti’a al-Sayani, a close relative of a provincial governor who is among Saleh’s supporters.
Aden is flooded with refugees fleeing fighting between Yemen’s military and Islamist militants who have seized the capital of a neighboring province – one of the multiple conflicts that Yemen’s neighbors fear could shatter the Arabian Peninsula country and embolden the country’s Al-Qaeda wing.
A U.S.- and European-brokered effort to strike a transition agreement between Saleh’s deputy and opposition parties who demand the president surrender all claims to power immediately, collapsed after the deputy refused to discuss Saleh’s future.
Yemen said Monday it had arrested several people for trying to kill Saleh, apparently referring to the attack that wounded him. A state newspaper reporting the arrests hinted blame would be placed on a group of opposition parties.
A cease-fire has held in Sanaa since Saleh left following the June 3 attack on his palace. Up to then, fighting between Saleh’s forces and those of Gen. Ali al-Mohsen al-Ahmar – who defected in March – as well as tribesmen, had killed hundreds of people and forced thousands to flee.
Thousands of anti-Saleh protesters filled the capital’s central Siteen Street Tuesday, demanding again that he step aside and that a transitional government be formed to take over.
Shortages of fuel, electricity and water are acute in the capital, and violence in the southern province of Abyan, whose capital Islamist gunmen seized last month, has worsened.