Delegates from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have offered the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and a proposal for him to step down from power, after months of unrest in the small, poverty-stricken country.
Under terms of the deal, Saleh will hand over his power to his vice president, resign in thirty days and establish presidential elections two months later, according to a Yemeni official.
Specifically, the GCC proposed the formation of a national unity government with 50 per cent held by the ruling party, 40 per cent by the opposition and 10 per cent by other parties, according to Agence France Presse.
The proposal also calls for an immediate cessation of anti-government protests by the opposition.
The arrangement would also provide immunity from prosecution for Saleh and his family.
The plan was hammered out at a summit in Abu Dhabi involving GCC members and Yemeni government figures.
A representative of Saleh’s regime has promised to respond to the GCC plan within 24 hours.
However, according to reports, the Yemeni opposition, who have been demanding Saleh’s departure, are unlikely to end demonstrations right away and are probably unhappy with Saleh’s proposed immunity.
One opposition leader, ?Mohammed Abdulmalik al-Mutawakil?, also doesn’t like the fact that the GCC plan says little about Saleh’s sons, who control certain divisions of the military.
“The first thing is that no one trusts [Saleh] at all,” Mutawakil said, according to the New York Times.
“Who can guarantee that everything will be carried out?” There have already been three other peace plans offered, but none have been agreed to by all parties, nor have they resolved the conflict.
Moreover, Saleh on Wednesday said he would only resign if he lost an election.
We will continue to resist ... undaunted and committed to constitutional legitimacy, while rejecting the plots and coups, he said, according to the state news service.
Let those who want to attain power rely on the ballot box. Change can only come about through elections and within the framework of constitutional legitimacy.”
Saleh’s term expires in 2013.
Munir al Mawri, a Yemeni-American journalist, told Al Jazeera: Saleh will practically be unable to rule Yemen without the support of the GCC. He can try to buy time but he knows very well that he is losing and that he should leave as soon as possible. He is concerned about the consequences after he leaves. He knows how many crimes he has committed in his country, especially after killing so many protesters. By asking for guarantees for not being prosecuted he is admitting that he committed crimes.