x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

GCC mediator is headed back to Yemen

The council's secretary general is expected to arrive in Sana'a today for another round of talks to end the violent standoff between President Ali Abdullah Saleh and anti-government protesters.

RIYADH // An official from the six-nation Gulf bloc confirmed its secretary general will head to Yemen Saturday ahead of the planned signing of a deal it brokered aimed at ending months of deadly protests.

Gulf Cooperation Council secretary general Abdullatif al Zayani "will travel to Sanaa on Saturday" and "the signature of the plan will take place in his presence on Sunday," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"He will then return to Riyadh with the signed document, which will be submitted to an extraordinary meeting of GCC foreign ministers" that is to be held in the Saudi capital on Sunday, he added.

Zayani has been attempting to broker an end to a bloody standoff between Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and protesters calling for his ouster, which has continued since January.

The GCC chief flew out of Sanaa on Wednesday after sources close to the negotiations said the government and the opposition again failed to ink the proposed deal.

Under the terms of the proposal, Saleh would hand power to the vice president 30 days after the agreement is signed, and he and his aides would be granted immunity from prosecution by parliament.

A national unity government led by a prime minister from the opposition would be formed, and a presidential election would follow 60 days after his departure.

Security forces have mounted a bloody crackdown on the protests, leaving at least 180 people dead, according to a toll compiled from reports by activists and medics.