2011-11-23 / World

U.N. envoy: Yemen president to sign power-transfer deal

SANAA, Yemen ( AP) — Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh plans to sign a deal today in the Saudi capital that could mean the end of his 33- year rule, the U.N. envoy to Yemen said.

Saleh’s signature on the Gulf-brokered accord — if he goes through with it — would start a new chapter in the nine-month popular uprising that has shaken the Arab world’s poorest country. Since January, tens of thousands of Yemenis have protested in cities and towns across the nation, calling for democracy and the fall of Saleh’s regime.

The uprising has led to a countrywide security collapse, with armed tribesmen battling security forces in different regions and al-Qaidalinked militants stepping up operations in the country’s restive south.

For months, the U. S. and other world powers have tried to get Saleh to agree to a proposal sponsored by Yemen’s powerful Gulf Arab allies to end the crisis.

Speaking to reporters in the Yemeni capital today, the U.N. Secretary General’s special envoy to Yemen, Jamal bin Omar, said opposition and ruling parties agreed on a mechanism to carry out the plan and that Saleh would sign the deal at a ceremony in the Saudi capital Riyadh later in the day.

The plan calls for a power transfer to Saleh’s vice president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, within 30 days, followed by a transitional period in which a national unity government will amend the constitution and work to restore security. The deal gives Saleh immunity from prosecution.

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