First Published: 2011-05-18

 

Late hitch stalls signing of Yemen crisis pact

 

Saleh aide says political rivals have agreed to sign GCC-brokered plan, but opposition skeptical about deal.

 

Middle East Online

By Jamal al-Jaberi - SANAA

Waiting for the final decision!

An aide to embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Yemen's political rivals have agreed to sign on Wednesday a Gulf-brokered plan to end bloody unrest, but the opposition expressed doubts about the deal.

Asked on Al-Arabiya television news network whether the agreement would be signed on Wednesday, Ahmed al-Sufi said: "Yes, it will be today" following "positive" and "important progress."

But parliamentary opposition spokesman Mohammed Qahtan said Saleh had backed out of signing the accord after a break in the impasse between the two sides had been reached on Tuesday night.

"If the initiative was unchanged" from its initial version, "we will sign," Qahtan said.

"We came to an agreement late Tuesday but this morning they changed their minds," Qahtan said, adding Saleh and his partisans "refuse" to sign it this way.

"The disagreement is on who will sign from the opposition," said Qahtan. However, "there's an agreement on the timeframe."

On the ground, most of Yemen's cities observed a complete strike on Wednesday morning as police fired shots into the the air in the town of Huta, in southern Lahij province, and in the Red Sea city of Al-Hudaydah, witnesses said.

Massive protests took place in Taez and Ibb, south of Sanaa, and Al-Hudaydah, witnesses said.

In Huta, where protesters blocked roads, residents said police fired into the air.

Yemen's southern cities of Aden, Lahij and Shabwa also went on strike Wednesday, according to residents there.

The impoverished but strategic Arabian Peninsula country has been gripped by protests since late January calling for the ouster of Saleh, who has been in power since 1978.

Security forces launched a deadly crackdown the protests, leaving at least 180 people dead, according to a toll compiled from reports by activists and medics.

Besides an Al-Qaeda resurgence, Yemen is battling a secessionist movement in the south and a Shiite rebellion in the north.

Saleh insists that, under the constitution, he should serve out his current term of office, which expires in 2013. Last Thursday, however, Washington called on him to sign the deal "now."

For weeks, the agreement has been held up by Saleh refusing to sign in his capacity as president. He has insisted on endorsing the deal only as leader of the ruling General People's Congress, contrary to the opposition's demands.

Talks are ongoing, said Qahtan, adding the opposition would meet Abdullatif al-Zayani, the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, later on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the spokesman for Saleh's party, Tareq al-Shami, had said: "We have discussed with.... Zayani the mechanism to implement a plan to end the crisis."

"This plan needs a time frame to implement it," said Shami.

On Friday, Qahtan declared the Gulf initiative was "dead" following the pullout of Qatar, whose prime minister had angered Sanaa by saying Saleh should go.

But Zayani returned to Sanaa on Saturday in an attempt to convince both sides to sign the initiative.

The six GCC states have proposed an exit plan that would see Saleh out of office within 30 days.

Under it, a government of national unity would be formed, Saleh would transfer power to his vice president and there would be an end to protests. In exchange, Saleh and his top aides would be granted immunity from prosecution.

 

Algeria’s reclusive president to mark 80th birthday

Saudi, Indonesia sign deals on first day of king’s ‘historic’ visit

Search for jihadists continues as civilians flee Mosul

Sisi defends Egypt’s fight against IS

Geologists demand return of Moroccan 'Nessie'

Crocodile stoned to death at Tunisia zoo

Yemenis struggle to survive harsh life of displacement

Tensions ease on disputed Western Sahara road

Syria army reaches outskirts of IS-held Palmyra

Israel soldier who shot Palestinian appeals conviction

26,000 Iraqis flee west Mosul in ten days

UN finds 45,000 displaced by battles around Yemen's Mokha

UN probe finds all sides committed war crimes in Aleppo

Damascus looks to Syrian Kurds to counter Turkey

Damascus clashes kill 13 regime fighters

Israel charges Jewish-born convert with Islamic State ties

Tunisia to try six police for ‘shambolic’ response to beach attack

Aid worries rise for refugees in Sudan

France slams Russia for UN Syria veto

Saudi king in Indonesia for stronger economic ties

Somali president declares severe drought ‘national disaster’

Iraq army makes desert push near Mosul

Clerics convene in Cairo for co-existence conference

Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria sanctions

Iraq forces disperse protest against premier

Report says Israel unprepared for 2014 Gaza tunnel threat

UN records 1500 Yemeni child soldiers

Nine jihadists ‘neutralised’ in Algeria

Putin says Syria sanctions hamper peace efforts

Clashes rock Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon

Erdogan threatens paper for controversial story

Shelling, checkpoint blocks UN aid chief's Yemen visit

Russia wants terrorism added to Syria talks agenda

UK judge: Tunisia police 'cowardly' over beach massacre

Palestinian elections to be held in West Bank only

Iraqi civilians flee west Mosul hardship

Netanyahu on defensive ahead of Gaza war report

Turkey begins biggest trial yet of coup suspects

Turkey wants part in Raqa recapture

Israel begins evacuating West Bank settler homes

Egypt lawmaker says expulsion warning to opposition

Fateh al-Sham Front head says Syria opposition leaders must 'step aside'

UN Security Council to vote Tuesday on Syria sanctions

Saudi Arabia is Changing

Libya PM to visit Moscow seeking better ties