Thursday, 21 April 2011

US-backed Saudi-led GCC plan to end Yemen crisis soon


UNITED NATIONS-- A deal brokered by six Arab states to end Yemen's political crisis is nearly set, with President Ali Abdullah Saleh most likely stepping down, diplomats said.

The Western-backed deal -- brokered by the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, a political and economic union of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait -- was believed on the verge of agreement, Qatar's pan-Arab al-Jazeera network reported Thursday.

"We're told that the (United Kingdom and the United States) are behind this deal," an al-Jazeera United Nations reporter in New York said.

Yemen's opposition coalition, known as the Joint Meetings Parties, has indicated its support for the plan. Saleh has yet to respond.

"Our sources here at [the United Nations] feel that [mediators] are very close to reaching a final agreement," reporter Kristen Saloomey said.

Under the proposal, Saleh would most likely hand over power to Vice President Abed Mansour Hadi and leave office within a few weeks, al-Jazeera said. Saleh and his family would be guaranteed immunity from prosecution.

Presidential elections would be held after 60 days, as stated in the country's Constitution.

Saleh, who came to power in 1978, has faced protests since January calling for his ouster that have led to the loss of more than 130 lives in the impoverished Arab country.

The Gulf Cooperation Council has sought to broker an end to the political crisis for weeks, al-Jazeera said.

Yemen's Saba news agency said Tuesday government officials met with the council in Abu Dhabi after similar meetings with opposition representatives Sunday.

The brokered plan is seen as a compromise between what the ruling party and the opposition have been seeking.

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