Gulf countries to revive attempts to end Yemen stand-off

Gulf countries to revive attempts to end Yemen stand-off

Members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were due to meet in Saudi Arabia late Tuesday to revive attempts to end the political stand-off in Yemen, dpa repotred

Meanwhile, hundreds of young protesters marched to the vice president's residence in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, to demand "an end to remnants and symbols" of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime.

For at least four months, millions of Yemenis have taken to the streets to demand that Saleh step down after 32 years in power. More than 350 people have been killed in the uprising, according to human rights groups and medics.

Tuesday's meeting in Jeddah is set to look at a range of regional issues, according to a GCC official, but it will focus on reviving a previous GCC proposal under which Saleh would transfer his powers to Vice President Abd-Rabbo Mansur within 30 days of signing the deal.

Presidential elections would then be held within 60 days, according to the proposals.

Saleh's previous refusal to accept the Western-backed deal led to fierce clashes between forces loyal to the president and tribesmen.

At least 200 people were killed as tensions escalated last month, until a ceasefire was agreed. It has been upheld since Saleh left the country for Saudi Arabia after he was injured in an attack on his presidential palace on June 3. He suffered damage to his skull, a collapsed lung and burns to his body.

The president's health remains uncertain. Some local media have reported that he is in critical condition, even dead. But Saudi state media quoted an unnamed official as saying that he was "well."

The government blamed followers of tribal leader Sheikh Sadeq al-Ahmar for the incident, but he has rejected the accusations.

An FBI forensics team is now in Yemen, at the request of the government, to investigate the attack, according to the Yemen Times.

Yemen's vice president met on Monday with leaders of an opposition coalition to discuss the future of the country amid continued protests demanding Saleh officially resign.

Protesters, including youth marchers, are demanding the immediate creation of a transitional council and the permanent exile of Saleh, hoping to capitalize on his departure from Yemen.

The opposition coalition had signed the GCC proposal, which grants Saleh immunity and allows him to stay on as head of the ruling party.

However, protesters have rejected the deal, saying Saleh should be tried for the deaths of the people killed in the uprising. They are also demanding that Saleh's relatives and aides, who remain in top posts, resign.

Meanwhile, fuel and electricity shortages have crippled parts of Yemen, including the capital, for weeks. The country is considered one of the poorest in the region.

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