Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh says he will sign a Gulf Cooperation Council deal to end his 33 years in power only if he receives guarantees from Gulf states, European nations and the United States.
Speaking at a ruling party meeting Wednesday, Saleh indicated that he wants a timetable for implementing the power transfer plan before he signs, but he did not say what that timetable should be. He said he has been under international pressure to sign the deal.
The GCC proposal calls for Saleh to hand power to a deputy within 30 days of signing in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his aides. The deputy and an opposition-led national unity government then would prepare for a presidential election to be held 60 days after Saleh's departure.
Saleh has refused to sign the document despite making several pledges to do so this year. He has vowed not to hand power to long-time rivals from opposition parties whom he accuses of seeking to "destroy the country."
Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize winner and opposition activist Tawakkul Karman was due to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York later Wednesday, as part of her campaign for U.N. sanctions against Saleh's government.
Karman also has urged the world body to reject any granting of legal immunity to the Yemeni president and his inner circle.
Diplomats said a draft resolution was circulated to U.N. Security Council members late Tuesday, expressing concern about ongoing violence in Yemen and calling for Saleh to step down. They said most council members appeared to support the draft and were likely to vote on it by early next week.
In violence Wednesday, Yemeni medics and witnesses said an assailant threw a grenade into a market in the southern province of Lahij, killing two people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the town of Habilayn. At least 11 people were wounded.
Yemen has been plagued by months of violence connected to an opposition uprising against President Saleh, and an anti-government insurgency by Islamist militants linked to al-Qaida.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.
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