Mounting pressure on leader of Yemen


YEMEN’S POLITICAL opposition, under pressure from Gulf states and US envoys, accepted a deal on Monday that would see President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down in 30 days. The long-term success of the agreement remained uncertain as protests continued yesterday.

Chairman of the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), Mohammed Salem Basendwah, confirmed the coalition’s agreement to the Gulf Co-operation Council plan on Monday night, but said the deal had not been accepted unconditionally.

“There will be no more negotiations but we will have to decide later on many things,” said a cautious Mr Basendwah.

Mr Saleh had already accepted the proposal, brokered by the six-member council, on Saturday. Amid the constant manoeuvring of increasingly uncertain political negotiations, the coalition of opposition, the JMP, appeared to reject the plan on Sunday, over details concerning a transitional government.

Under the council’s plan, the parliament would pass a law granting Mr Saleh, his family and aides, immunity from prosecution. Seven days after both sides have signed the deal an interim government, split equally between Mr Saleh’s ruling General People’s Congress party and opposition groups, would be formed to oversee election preparations.

Once immunity is assured, and within 30 days, Mr Saleh would resign and hand over authority to his vice-president, Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi. Sixty days after the transition of power, elections would be held.

The make-up of the interim government, overseen by Mr Saleh for the initial 30-day period, has so far been a sticking point for the JMP – a mismatch of six parties ranging from socialists to Islamists.

“We [JMP] might take part in the interim government or we might do so after the president has left . . . that we will have to decide,” said Mr Basendwah.

The aim of the council’s initiative, lead by neighbouring Saudi Arabia, with heavy backing from the United States and European Union, was to resolve Yemen’s three-month crisis of anti-government protests. Despite the acceptance of the deal by both political sides, the plan falls short of protester’s expectations, who have formally rejected the proposal.

“Ali Saleh should resign immediately . . . and be prosecuted for all his crimes of thievery, incitement, corruption and murder,” said the youth revolution council, representing more than 140 anti-government groups throughout Yemen.

Spokesman for the youth council, Jamal Nasser, described the JMP’s decision as “political suicide”. Demonstrations continued yesterday after three activists were shot dead and dozens were wounded in clashes with security forces and plain-clothes government loyalists on Monday. In Taiz, security forces again opened fire on marching activists on Tuesday.

The secretary-general of the council, Abdullatif Al-Zayani, is expected to arrive in Sana’a within days to finalise the deal.