Sunday, 22 May 2011

President Saleh may back out again from signing

Source: Voice of America  22/05/2011

Yemen's president appears to be backing out again from signing a Gulf region-brokered deal that would have him transfer power within a month. 

President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Sunday that he is not interested in signing a deal inked "behind closed doors." 

His statement came hours before he was scheduled to sign the agreement. 

Plans to sign the deal have already stalled twice because of objections by the Yemeni leader. 

Yemen's opposition signed the pact Saturday with the understanding that the president would sign the agreement Sunday. 

Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis in the capital Sanaa poured into a central square Sunday that has become the center of opposition protests. 

At the same time, supporters of Mr. Saleh blocked roads to protest the deal. 

The agreement offers Mr. Saleh immunity from prosecution if he transfers power to a deputy within 30 days of signing. 

In a speech Saturday, the president denounced the U.S.-backed proposal as a "coup" and warned that his departure could allow al-Qaida to take over parts of Yemen. 

The Yemeni leader has faced months of anti-government protests demanding he end his more than 30-year rule.  His government has responded to the demonstrations with a bloody crackdown.

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