Yemen's Saleh wants global guarantees to sign deal
Wed Oct 19, 2011 5:11pm GMT
SANAA (Reuters) - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Wednesday he
would only sign a Gulf peace initiative calling for a transfer of power if
the United States, Europe and Gulf Arab states gave him unspecified
Violence in Yemen, where thousands have been demonstrating for months
demanding that Saleh end his 33 years in power, has spiked since the
president returned from Saudi Arabia after treatment for injuries sustained
in an assassination attempt.
Saleh has already backed down three times from signing the Gulf initiative,
and says he will only hand over power to "safe hands."
"Now that the president has returned, they say there is no need for the vice
president to sign. Fine, I am ready to sign," Saleh told a meeting of party
leaders in the capital Sanaa broadcast on state television.
"But provide guarantees to implement this initiative. We want Gulf
guarantees, first, second, European guarantees and third American
guarantees," he added.
The Gulf initiative provides for him to hand over power to his deputy to
prepare for elections.
"These three guarantees must accompany the Gulf initiative," Saleh said.
Saleh' comments came after the five permanent members of the U.N. Security
Council circulated a draft resolution to the full 15-nation body urging a
swift signing and "implementation" of the Gulf Arab plan, under which Saleh
would be immune from prosecution.
The draft resolution, obtained by Reuters, would have the Security Council
say it "stresses that all those responsible for violence, human rights
violations and abuses should be held accountable." It did not give any
details on how accountability would be achieved.
Yemeni Nobel peace laureate Tawakul Karman made an impassioned plea to the
United Nations on Tuesday to reject the Gulf Arab plan that would grant
immunity to Saleh, calling the president a "war criminal."
Referring to the dismantling of now deceased Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein's Baath party after the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Saleh said the
world has been pushing him to sign the Gulf accord without any assurances on
the fate of members of his administration.
"They say sign without any conditions and then we will look into the
mechanism of the timing," Saleh said. "First, you must show your goodwill,
and then we are willing to sign the initiative," he added.
The Yemeni protests are one of a series of "Arab Spring" uprisings that have
already toppled long-serving rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
The United States fears that the Yemen protests might let Islamist militants
linked to al Qaeda expand their control in the poorest country in the Arab
world, which has a long and porous border with Saudi Arabia, the world's
largest oil exporter.
Dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who had broken away from the Yemeni
government army and sided with the protesters, has said that nearly 200
people have died since Saleh's return on September 23.
In the past three days, at least 26 people died in almost daily clashes
between Saleh's troops and forces loyal to al-Ahmar and a tribal leader
allied with the protesters.
Saleh blames the opposition for the violence.
In the latest violence, Yemeni tribesmen blew up an oil pipeline used to
carry crude from the Maarib Province in central Yemen to Ras Isa port on the
Red Sea, a government official said.
It was the fifth attack on the pipeline in one month.
In southern Yemen, an unidentified assailant threw a grenade into a crowded
market place of a town on Wednesday, killing two people and wounding 11,
witnesses and doctors said.
The attacker fled the scene in the town of al-Habilayn in Lahej province,
where central government control has been weakened by the protest.
(Additional reporting by Mohammed Mukhashef in Aden, Writing by Sami Aboudi)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Wed Oct 19 2011 - 15:54:39 EDT