Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's health is in "bad" condition as he remains in a Saudi Arabia hospital for treatment one week after suffering injuries in a rocket attack on his palace, AFP reports.
A Riyadh-based source, who requested anonymity, told AFP that Saleh is suffering "problems in the lungs and respiration" and explained, "What confirms [his bad state of health] is that many Yemeni ministers tried to visit him and their requests were turned down."
Reuters reported earlier this week:
Saleh was initially said to have received a shrapnel wound, and his vice president was quoted on Monday as saying the president would return to Yemen within days from Saudi Arabia where he is being treated.
The Yemeni official reiterated comments by a U.S. official, saying Saleh was in a more serious condition with burns over roughly 40 percent of his body. Britain called on Tuesday for an orderly transition of power from Saleh.
Saleh has resisted calls to step down by hundreds of thousands of protesters who have filled the streets of major cities in Yemen since early February, but a deadly crackdown has failed to clear them from the streets.
Pressure from the United States and Yemen's neighboring countries has been building on Saleh to step down as part of a negotiated deal with opposition parties that would preserve some measure of order in the fragile nation.
The crisis descended into armed street battles two weeks ago between the president's forces and gunmen loyal to Yemen's most powerful tribal leader, who has turned against Saleh.
Saleh has ruled Yemen for nearly 33 years. The U.S., which had relied on him to help fight the militants, is worried al-Qaida's branch in Yemen will take advantage of the instability. U.S. forces have carried out several recent air attacks on al-Qaida targets in the country.
While al-Qaida's estimated 300 hard core members in Yemen may gain more room to maneuver and plot attacks against the West, it is unlikely they could make a serious push to take control of Yemen, as the president claims.