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Yemen president, main opposition reach deal, but protests to go on

Arab World Materials 18 May 2011 16:49
Protesters in Yemen said Wednesday they would continue their demonstrations, despite the president and the country's main opposition coalition reportedly agreeing to sign a Gulf-brokered deal to end months of political standoff.
Yemen president, main opposition reach deal, but protests to go on

Protesters in Yemen said Wednesday they would continue their demonstrations, despite the president and the country's main opposition coalition reportedly agreeing to sign a Gulf-brokered deal to end months of political standoff, DPA reported.

Broadcaster Al Arabiya reported that President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition Joint Meeting Parties(JMP) agreed to the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC) deal. But a date for the signing was not set.

Previously, the JMP said it would sign the deal, but Saleh continued to backtrack for weeks on finally signing it.

The Yemeni president, who has held power for 32 years, had said he would sign the deal while at the same time insisting on a constitutional transition that would allow him to stay in office until his term ends in 2013.

According to opposition activist Shatha al-Harazi, people on the streets of Yemen reject the deal, which stipulates that Saleh should transfer power to his vice president within 30 days of signing it. Presidential elections would take place after 60 days.

Under the proposal, Saleh would also be guaranteed immunity from legal prosecution and remains head of the ruling party.

"The number of people killed and the attacks on protesters since the deal was announced has made people reject it even more," said al-Harazi. "However, if the situation persists as is, the country will spiral out of control."

Al-Harazi said the only solution is that Saleh and his regime officials be tried after he immediately steps down.

"The point is not for Saleh to step down so his vice president takes over. What matters is that we must have faith and trust our leader," she said.

With over 140 people killed since protests began in January, according to rights groups and medics, al-Harazi said demonstrators demanding reforms, freedom and a new government face an uphill struggle.

"The army has not been on the people's side, despite some defections," she said.

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