Middle East

Yemen: Saleh resignation deal to be signed

Young anti-government protesters in Taiz (26 April 2011)
Image caption Many youths accuse the opposition of breaking their promise to try Mr Saleh

Yemen's government and opposition will sign a deal soon under which President Ali Abdullah Saleh will step down after 30 days, officials say.

Mr Saleh's General People's Congress party and the opposition coalition, the Common Front, have both agreed to take part in a national unity government.

But correspondents say many people are angry the president will get immunity.

Earlier, a protester was killed when security forces opened fire in the southern city of Taiz, witnesses said.

A sniper on a rooftop shot a crowd of youths who had been demanding Mr Saleh resign immediately, they added. Several others were wounded.

Troops also opened fire on protesters in the town of Beit al-Faqih, in the Red Sea province of al-Hudaida, residents told Reuters news agency.

More than 130 people have been killed by security forces and supporters of Mr Saleh since the anti-government unrest began in January.

Opposition split

On Saturday, the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) brokered a deal under which President Saleh would submit his resignation to parliament, and hand over power to his vice-president, 30 days after asking the opposition to name a prime minister to form a national unity government.

Mr Saleh's agreement to step down would also be dependent on parliament passing legislation providing immunity from prosecution for the president, his family "and those who worked with him during his rule".

The General People's Congress immediately accepted the GCC proposal, while the Common Front agreed on Sunday only after its leaders had received "assurances" from the GCC, the US and Europe on the transfer of power.

On Monday, the deputy secretary general of the GPC, Sultan al-Barakani, told AFP news agency: "We have received an invitation from Saudi Arabia to sign in Riyadh an agreement on the Gulf Co-operation Council initiative."

Mohammed Salem Basindwa, who led the Common Front's delegation to the talks hosted by the GCC, confirmed to the Associated Press that the agreement would be signed "within the next 24 hours".

The deal caused a serious split between the opposition coalition and the youths who have led the demonstrations across the country for months. They accuse the politicians breaking a promise to put Mr Saleh on trial.

Some have also warned that allowing the president to stay on for another month could exacerbate the crisis in the Arab World's poorest state.