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New doubts over Yemen power deal

[ 2011-05-23 10:42]     字号 [] [] []  
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Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh was due to sign a Gulf-brokered pact on Sunday that would make him the third Arab leader to be ousted by protests this year, but snags were emerging that could scupper a deal yet again.

Saleh, a political survivor who has twice backed out of signing at the last minute, is under strong diplomatic pressure to go ahead this time to end three months of protests that have paralyzed the economy and raised fears of anarchy.

The deal would ease Saleh out of power within a month and give him, his family and close aides immunity from prosecution, ensuring a dignified exit after nearly 33 years at the helm of the state.

Hundreds of Saleh loyalists rallied against the deal on Sunday, blocking main roads and briefly preventing a Gulf mediator from heading to the presidential palace in Sanaa, as the ruling party added new demands ahead of the signing.

"We reject signing the Gulf initiative and the coup against legitimacy," some pro-Saleh demonstrators shouted from their cars over loudspeakers, while others piled up stone barricades to block traffic.

Witnesses said the mediator, Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani, as well as US and European envoys, were stranded in the embassy compound of the United Arab Emirates where they were staying as Saleh's supporters protested nearby.

The United States and Saudi Arabia, both targets of foiled attacks by al-Qaida's Yemen wing, are keen to end the Yemeni stalemate to avert deeper chaos that could give one of the militant network's most potent arms more room to thrive.

More than 170 protesters have been killed in a crackdown on demonstrations, part of the wave of uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East that swept aside the leaders of Tunisia and Egypt.

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied peacefully on Sunday across Yemeni cities to keep up the pressure. They have threatened to step up their campaign by marching on government buildings, a tactic that led to more bloodshed this month when security forces opened fire to stop them.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

New doubts over Yemen power deal

About the broadcaster:

New doubts over Yemen power deal

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.