SANA'A// Two protesters were killed and at least 11 others wounded yesterday as the protest movement seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh called on the Gulf Cooperation Council to withdraw its peace plan that Mr Saleh has refused to sign.
A 16-year-old student protester died in al Ma'afer district in the province of Taiz when police fired on demonstators. Residents in Aden, Taiz, Sa'ada and Hodeida observed a half-day shutdown of offices and businesses that is part of a civil disobedience campaign called by the protest organisers to pressure Mr Saleh to step aside.
"We call on the leaders of the GCC to stop any initiatives that result in alienating the Yemeni people," the Organising Committee of the Popular Youth Revolution, said yesterday in a statement.
"We call on the United States, the European Union and the permanent Security Council members to assume their moral responsibility and stop ... meddling directed against the will of the Yemeni people to ensure freedom and democracy," the statement read.
The statement added that the group rejects any plan that does not require Mr Saleh to quit immediately and face trial on corruption charges. It also warned the opposition parties of dealing with any agreement that "goes against the will of the Yemeni people".
The GCC plan stalled after Mr Saleh refused on May 1 to sign the agreement that would have him quit power within one month. The plan, which was endorsed last month by the Yemeni government and the Joint Meeting Parties, a six-party opposition coalition, calls for Mr Saleh to resign and hand power to his vice president a month after signing the proposal.
An opposition leader would then be appointed to lead an interim cabinet in preparing for presidential elections two months later.
"Our initiative is to help both parties to come to an agreement," Abdullatif Al Zayani, GCC secretary-general, told reporters in Abu Dhabi yesterday. "The heads of the GCC are concerned about what's going on in Yemen. They want to help the Yemeni people. I'm very optimistic about the approach and the initiative," he said.
"I wish Yemen and the great people of Yemen all the success in getting out of this crisis stronger and more unified," he said.
The deal offers Mr Saleh and his inner circle, including relatives who run branches of the security and military forces, immunity from prosecution.
Mohammed al Sabri, a leader of JMP said the GCC plan had been modified to allow Mr Saleh to sign as party leader rather than as president, a stipulation Mr Saleh demands.
He said the opposition informed the GCC that it does not accept this modification.
"Modifying the plan every now and then has put the JMP and the GCC in a difficult position and would allow the regime to exercise more violence," Mr al Sabri said.
Abdu al Janadi, Yemen's vice minister of information, said even if Mr Saleh signs as the head of the ruling party, he would not step down until protests end.
"The president will ... step down only after peace and stability are back to all parts of the country," Mr al Janadi said yesterday.
* National reporter Gregor Hunter contributed to this report from Abu Dhabi