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Yemeni Opposition, Saleh Reach Deal

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TEHRAN, May 18 (ICANA) – The Yemeni government and the opposition have agreed to sign a deal for transition of power designed to end months of political crisis in the country.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 8:32:36 PM
Yemeni Opposition, Saleh Reach Deal

The deal, brokered by Persian Gulf Arab states, would lead to the departure of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power since 1978, and the formation of a national unity government.

The opposition says they have agreed to sign the deal after certain modifications were made in the original version, including the requirement for Saleh to sign the document in his capacity as president and not merely as the leader of the ruling General People's Congress (GPC).

"After American, European and Arab efforts, there was agreement by the president on the [P]GCC initiative after simple changes, and the signing will be today," Reuters quoted an opposition official Yahya Abu Usbua as saying on Wednesday.

"The president will sign for the government in his capacity as president of the republic and as head of the ruling party," Abu Usbua added.

The isolated Yemeni president previously refused to sign in his capacity as president, insisting on endorsing the agreement only as the leader of the ruling GPC.

"The main points have been agreed on from both differing sides in the Yemeni political arena. Saleh is ready to sign the proposal as president of Yemen and on behalf of the ruling party," Zaid Thari, a Saleh aide, said.

The opposition, however, believes Saleh will "refuse" to sign the deal, expected to be signed later on Wednesday.

The original exit plan suggested the formation of a national unity government, transfer of power from Saleh to his vice president and submission of Saleh's resignation to the parliament within 30 days, which would be followed by presidential election within two months.

In exchange, Saleh and his top aides would be granted immunity from prosecution.

The deal also calls for an end to the nationwide anti-government protests.

According to local reports, at least 300 protesters have been killed and many others injured during clashes with riot police and armed forces loyal to the embattled Yemeni president since anti-Saleh demonstrations began in late January.

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