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Yemen Opposition Signs Transition Deal


Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh reacts while delivering a speech to his supporters, during a rally in his support in Sana'a, Yemen, May 20, 2011.

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh reacts while delivering a speech to his supporters, during a rally in his support in Sana'a, Yemen, May 20, 2011.

Yemen's opposition says it has signed a Gulf-brokered deal that would see President Ali Abdullah Saleh transfer power within a month.

Opposition sources said the deal, aimed at ending Yemen's political crisis, was signed on Saturday. News reports say President Saleh is expected to sign the agreement on Sunday. Plans to sign the deal have already stalled twice because of objections by the Yemeni leader.

In a speech Saturday, Mr. Saleh denounced the U.S.-backed Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) proposal as a "coup," and warned that his departure could allow al-Qaida to take over parts of the country.

Despite his criticism of the deal, Mr. Saleh indicated that he would go along with it.

The agreement offers Mr. Saleh immunity from prosecution if he transfers power to a deputy within 30 days of signing.

The Yemeni leader has faced months of anti-government protests demanding he end his more than 30-year rule. His government has responded to the demonstrations with a bloody crackdown.

In his speech Saturday, Mr. Saleh charged that funding for the protests had come from his country's Gulf neighbors.

He warned that if he heeded protesters' demands to leave office, al-Qaida would gain control in several provinces, including Hadramout, Shabwa and Abyan - all areas where the terrorist group's Yemen-based wing has been active.

Addressing his comments to Yemen's "friends" in the United States and European Union, he said the situation in Yemen will be worse than it is now.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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