LONDON (Reuters) - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who escaped an attempt on his life by opponents, will only cede power through the ballot box and the country will descend into civil war if he is forced from office, his foreign minister said. A popular uprising against Saleh's 33-year rule, high profile defections, and an assassination attempt in June which left him with severe burns and forced him to undergo eight operations have all failed to persuade him to give up. "President Saleh made this very clear. He repeatedly said he is ready to transfer power anytime, but through early elections, through the ballot box and by adhering to the constitution," Abubakr al-Qirbi told Reuters in an interview.