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GCC Brokers Saleh Departure, But Protests Continue

The Gulf Cooperation Council has brokered a deal for the departure of Yemen's president and a transfer of power, but protesters aren't satisfied.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 4/28/2011, 6:00 PM / Last Update: 4/29/2011, 12:45 AM

Yemen's government and opposition are expected to sign a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council on May 2, the AFP reports.

The agreement calls for the formation of a national unity government in Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh transferring his powers to his vice president, and an end to deadly protests.

Saleh would submit his resignation to the parliament within 30 days under the agreement, with a presidential election being held within two months.

The agreement also allows Saleh to appoint a prime minister from the opposition, who would then form a transition government ahead of a presidential election two months after his resignation.

A GCC official in Riyadh who spoke on condition of anonymity told the AFP, “The delegations of the Yemeni government and the opposition will sign the agreement on Monday at a ceremony in Riyadh.”

The deputy Secretary-General of Yemen’s ruling General People’s Congress, Sultan Al Barakani, confirmed representatives of his party would attend the signing.

A leader from the Common Forum, a coalition of Yemen’s parliamentary opposition, also confirmed a delegation from his group would head to Riyadh on Wednesday to sign the agreement.

Al Barakani said the ambassadors of the U.S., European Union members, GCC states and a U.N. representative in Riyadh will be on hand to witness the signing.

Protesters Dubious of Deal

But after three months of violent protests and some 130 deaths Yemenis are impatient and distrust the GCCs brokered deal because it leaves President Ali Abdullah Saleh in office for several months and grants his family immunity.

"The people want a departure, not an initiative," protesters shouted outside the Red Sea port of Hudaida on Wednesday, where maritime operations continued unaffected despite tens of thousands Yemenis blocking access to the town even as Sunday's signing was announced.

In addition to the blockade, thousands of residents in cities and towns across Yemen launched a civil disobedience campaign on Wednesday to bring down the country's long-serving president, activists said.

Residents in at least 18 cities and towns are involved in the disobedience campaign, with shops and schools closed and government offices shuttered.

The day-long closures are planned twice weekly until President Ali Abdullah Saleh quits.

Clashes also flared in south Yemen between security forces and anti-government protesters who blocked roads with burning tires Wednesday. One protester and a soldier were killed, hospital and local officials said.

It is also not clear whether opposition parties can halt the protests even if required to by the transition agreement.