Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh 311 Reu.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
SANAA - Yemen's ruling party said on Saturday it had accepted a political plan for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down within weeks, and the opposition also welcomed the main elements of the Gulf Arab initiative.Scores of protesters have been killed.
Protests in Yemen, inspired by uprisings that toppled the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia, are now in their third month and bring tens of thousands of people onto the streets almost every day demanding an end to endemic poverty and corruption.
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"The ruling party informed the foreign ministers of the GCC of their
acceptance of the Gulf initiative in full," party spokesman Tariq Shami
After years of backing Saleh as a bulwark against regional instability
and the activities of al Qaeda's active Yemeni branch, Saudi Arabia and
the United States had begun pressing him to negotiate with the
opposition on handing over power.
The Gulf Cooperation Council plan stipulates that Saleh will hand over
power to his vice-president one month after an agreement is signed with
opposition forces, and be granted immunity from prosecution for himself,
his family and aides.
There was no immediate comment from the GCC.
Immunity was a central element of the Gulf plan that the opposition had insisted it would not accept.
But the opposition coalition said on Saturday that it would now agree to the main elements of the plan.
"The opposition welcomes the initiative with the exception of the
formation of a national unity government," said the current chairman of
the opposition, Yassin Noman.
Opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan told Al Jazeera television that the
necessary basis of trust was lacking for the opposition to join a
national unity government, but made clear the opposition did not see
this as a fundamental obstacle to the implementation of the plan.
"The vice-president will take over for a certain period and then we will see what happens," he said.