The embattled president of Yemen who has faced several weeks of unrelenting protest demonstrations has reportedly agreed to a proposal by neighboring Gulf states to end the crisis in his poverty-stricken country.
In compliance with statements [President Ali Abdullah Saleh] made several times ...the president has no reservation against transferring power peacefully and smoothly within the framework of the constitution, said the presidential statement.
However, it’s unclear if Saleh will abide by the proposal of Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) -- a six-nation bloc of oil-producing countries, including Saudi Arabia -- which calls for him to step down and transfer his power to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.
In fact, Saleh has repeatedly stated he will step down only when his term expires in 2013.
The GCC has proposed the formation of a national unity government under the leadership of the opposition which has the right to form committees ... to draw up a constitution and hold elections.
They also said that Saleh should hand over his power to his vice president and stop all forms of revenge. and (legal) pursuance, through guarantees offered (suggesting Saleh might escape any prosecution).
However, GCC did not offer any specific timetable for such a departure and transfer if power.
As a result, hundreds of anti-government demonstrators have fanned out across the country to protest the GCC plan – they want Saleh and his family to face trials for corruption and other crimes.
Yemen’s opposition leaders, who are demanding that Saleh resign immediately, will meet later today to evaluate the GCC proposal
Najib Ghaniem, a senior figure of the opposition Islah party, told Al Jazeera: We are only interested in the end to the agony of our people. If this initiative means that Saleh steps down, then all issues can be put on the table to discuss later on.
A Yemen-based reporter for Al Jazeera expressed doubt about Saleh’s true intentions, writing: This has always been [Saleh’s] position - the key words are 'within the constitution' which could either mean through elections at the end of the year or if he chooses to resign it must be accepted by parliament. In which case, as we saw with emergency law few weeks ago, he can easily swing to make sure they don't accept his resignation.
Indeed, just last Friday, Saleh outright rejected a proposal made by Qatar’s Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, which explicitly called for his resignation. Saleh blasted the offer as a blatant interference in Yemeni [internal] affairs.
The United States, which has long valued Saleh as an ally in its conflicts against al-Qaeda terrorist groups, has also quietly suggested the president should quit. Reportedly, Saleh will not step down until he is assured that neither he nor his family will face any reprisals
Meanwhile, The United Nations Children’s Fund said that at least 662 Yemenis, including 24 children, have been killed during three months of protests in Yemen.