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Yemeni Opposition Signs (P)GCC Deal

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TEHRAN, May 22 (ICANA) – Yemen's opposition has reportedly signed an agreement with the government to bring an end to more than three months of political crisis in the most impoverished state in the Arab world.
Sunday, May 22, 2011 12:46:08 PM
Yemeni Opposition Signs (P)GCC Deal

Yemeni opposition sources said on Saturday that they have inked a deal mediated by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, AFP reported.

However, Yemeni opposition leaders declined to make a statement about the signing of the deal, saying an announcement would be made on Sunday.

One opposition figure, speaking on condition of anonymity, said opposition leaders held a meeting on Saturday with the (P)GCC secretary general, the ambassadors of the United States, Britain, and the United Arab Emirates, and an envoy of the European Union.

He neither confirmed nor denied that the accord had been signed, but said "the important thing is that the president sign" the agreement.

Tareq al-Shami, a spokesman for Saleh's ruling General People's Congress, said the president would sign the deal on Sunday. The party's secretary general, Sultan al-Barakani, also confirmed that the government side would sign on Sunday, adding that the opposition had refused to sign the agreement in the presidential palace.

Under the proposal, Saleh would hand power over to the vice president within 30 days after the signing of the agreement in exchange for immunity from prosecution by parliament.

A national unity government led by a prime minister from the opposition would then be formed, and a presidential election would be held 60 days after Saleh's departure.

A commission, made up of members of the current government and the opposition and representatives of the US, the EU, and the UN, would be established to "supervise the implementation of the agreement over 30 days."

Hundreds of thousands of people have turned out for regular demonstrations in Yemen's major cities since late January, calling for an end to corruption and unemployment and demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in office since 1978.

On Saturday, Saleh described the agreement as "in fact purely a coup operation," but said his regime "will deal positively with it for the sake of the motherland.”

He also warned "friends in the United States and the European Union" that the departure of his regime could give a boost to al-Qaeda in Yemen and accused some of the country's oil-rich Arab neighbors of funding the anti-regime protests.

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