SANA’A: Yemen’s embattled president Saturday agreed to a proposal by Gulf Arab mediators to step down within 30 days and hand over power to his deputy in exchange for immunity from prosecution, a major about-face for the leader who has ruled for 32 years.
The protest movement demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s immediate departure said it also accepted the latest draft of the deal but with reservations.
A day earlier, protesters staged the largest of two months of demonstrations, filling a five-lane boulevard across the capital with a sea of hundreds of thousands of people. A deadly crackdown by government forces and Saleh supporters has killed more than 130 people and prompted key allies to abandon the president and join the protesters.
The opposition movement, fed up with poverty and corruption under Saleh, said they object to an article in the GCC draft that gives parliament, which is dominated by Saleh’s party, the right to reject the president’s resignation.
State TV reported that Yemen’s foreign minister delivered the government’s acceptance to mediators Saturday. But protests continued and expanded to include a general strike. Schools, government offices and private companies shut their doors in response to the opposition’s call for a strike.
— Associated Press