Sanaa, November 21, 2011 (AFP)
Sanaa, November 21, 2011 (AFP)
Yemen’s embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh has agreed to sign a plan to transfer power to his deputy and end the crisis that has gripped the country since January, a senior opposition figure said on Monday.
“The negotiations that have been under way for the past three days have led to an agreement by which the Gulf initiative and mechanisms for implementing it will be signed on Tuesday,” Mohammed Bassandawa, head of the National Council of revolutionary forces, told AFP.
The plan submitted by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council calls on Saleh to hand power to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, thus ending his 33-year rule in return for immunity from prosecution.
Saleh has so far refused to sign the agreement, despite violence which has seen hundreds of people killed and thousands wounded since an uprising against his regime erupted in January.
Bassandawa refused to give more details on the negotiations which he said finally persuaded Saleh to sign the GCC deal which the wealthy neighbours of impoverished Yemen first proposed in April.
But another opposition official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said an agreement was reached “concerning the mechanisms for the implementation” of the GCC plan “and an agreement was reached.”
In line with this agreement “President Saleh will sign on Tuesday in Sanaa the Gulf initiative,” said the opposition official.
“Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, leaders of the (ruling) General People’s Congress and of the opposition will also sign the mechanism for implementing the agreement on Tuesday,” the opposition leader said.
But he also insisted on adding words of caution.
“This in an agreement in principle,” he said.
Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, has repeatedly thwarted efforts by the GCC and the United Nations, to ink the pact.
On May 1 the GCC called off a signing ceremony because Saleh refused at the last minute to sign the document. A second ceremony on May 22 was also scrapped for the same reason.
The GCC plan proposes the formation in Sanaa of a government of national unity, Saleh transferring power to his vice president and an end to the deadly protests rocking the impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation since late January.
The president would submit his resignation to parliament within 30 days, to be followed two months later by a presidential election.
The latest developments come as a UN Security Council meeting on Yemen which was due to take place on Monday was postponed at the request of political rivals in Sanaa.
“The Security Council meeting was postponed to November 28 at the request of the protagonists” of the Yemen crisis, Jamal Benomar, the UN’s envoy to Yemen, said on Sunday in Sanaa.
Benomar has been in the Yemeni capital since last week for talks aimed at ending 10 months of political deadlock and bloodshed.
The 15-member Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2014 on October 21 condemning the Sanaa government’s crackdown on the mass anti-regime protest movement that has swept the country.
It also called on Saleh to sign the initiative submitted by the GCC which groups Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
The political turmoil in Yemen, which has seen powerful tribes and army dissidents join opposition groups and youth protesters in their struggle to oust Saleh, has left Yemen’s already impoverished economy on the brink of collapse.