x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Saleh allows his deputy to begin dialogue on Yemen power transfer

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen¿s president, has authorised his deputy, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, to negotiate with the opposition on the implementation of the GCC-brokered plan on power transition.

SANAA // Yemen's president yesterday authorised his deputy, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, to conduct dialogue with the opposition on the implementation of the GCC-brokered plan on power transition.

The Yemeni vice president, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, was given "the necessary constitutional powers" to begin talks with the [opposition JMP] on an implementation mechanism for the Gulf Cooperation Council plan to have President Ali Abdullah Saleh relinquish power peacefully through early presidential elections, the state news agency, Saba, reported, citing a presidential decree. The report said the election date can be agreed upon by the two sides.

Under the decree, Mr Hadi can "agree on a time-frame and sign" the plan.

Diplomatic attempts to bring about a transition of power have failed before. Both the ruling General People's Congress and the main opposition coalition known as Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) have signed the GCC plan, in which Mr Saleh would hand over presidential powers to Mr Hadi within 30 days in exchange for a promise of immunity from prosecution for himself, his family and circle.

Mr Saleh, who remained in Saudi Arabia after being wounded in an attack on his complex in Sanaa in June, announced his support for the GCC plan three times, but reneged on signing the plan at the last minute.

Mohammed Al Sabri, a JMP leader, said yesterday such a decree is just another way to "waste and buy time".

Mr Al Sabri said: "The president shows again that he is not taking things seriously. The problem is not with the vice president or the ruling party; it is rather with the president who has refused to sign the GCC deal. Any talks on negotiations before signing the GCC deal are a waste of time and nonsense. He should first sign the deal and then all issues can be negotiated."

Protests have mounted in recent days, with anti-Saleh demonstrators demanding an escalation of the uprising. Tension between the defected military forces and the elite Republican Guard, loyal to Mr Saleh, are at a new high after the defected First Armoured Division yesterday accused the Republican Guard forces of hitting one of its positions west of Sanaa with four tank shells, killing one and wounding two others.

GCC foreign ministers, meeting on Sunday in Jeddah, said there was "deep concern for the continued deterioration of the situation in the Republic of Yemen, and urged all parties to exercise restraint and boost confidence for the peaceful transition of power".