News / Middle East

Yemeni Opposition Says President Refused to Sign Transition Agreement

Anti-government protesters carry a fellow protester wounded during clashes with police in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, April 30, 2011
Anti-government protesters carry a fellow protester wounded during clashes with police in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, April 30, 2011

Yemen's main opposition group says President Ali Abdullah Saleh has refused to sign an agreement that calls for his resignation as part of a plan to end the country's unrest.

Opposition officials said Saturday that the head of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani) that brokered the deal had left Yemen without the president's signature.  They say Mr. Saleh refused to sign the agreement as president - as stipulated in the document.  The Reuters news agency quotes officials who say Mr. Saleh wanted to sign the initiative as head of the ruling party.

Gulf Cooperation Council officials had traveled to Yemen on Saturday to finalize the agreement, ahead of an official signing ceremony planned for Monday in Saudi Arabia.

The plan calls for President Saleh to hand over power to a deputy and resign within 30 days of signing the initiative.  It would establish a unity government that would include opposition members.  The agreement was designed to end weeks of deadly unrest that erupted from opposition protests calling for Mr. Saleh's immediate resignation.

The deal has divided members of the opposition between those who support the plan and those who say it does not go far enough.  Many protesters have objected to a stipulation in the deal that grants the president and his family immunity from prosecution.

Earlier Saturday, violence erupted in the southern port city of Aden.  Activists and medics say at least two protesters were killed after security forces moved in to clear a square occupied by opposition activists.  

Also, Yemeni officials say at least two security officers were killed and two injured in a separate incident in the city.  The French news agency quotes local officials as saying protesters opened fire on the security officers who were trying to dismantle roadblocks set up by demonstrators.

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

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