x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Yemen's president agrees to step down, says UN envoy

The opposition and Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, had approved a plan for the transition of power, according to a UN envoy.

SANAA // The UN envoy to Yemen, yesterday said the opposition and the president had approved a plan for the transition of power.

"Negotiations between all parties in Yemen have been finalised by an agreement on the implementation mechanism of the Gulf initiative," Jamal Benomar said, referring to a deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has backed down three times from signing the initiative, which calls for him to hand over his power to his vice president, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his inner circle.

"We are now discussing the practical arrangements of signing the Gulf initiative and the implementation mechanism," said Mr Benomar, who arrived in Yemen on November 10. The deal aims to end more than 10 months of violent anti-government protests in which more than 1,000 people have been killed.

Ahmed Al Sufi, an aide to Mr Saleh, confirmed that agreement had been reached.

Under the deal, opposition officials said Mr Saleh would retain the title of president, but would not have any powers, until elections were held in January.

On Monday, Yemeni soldiers and tribesmen killed 14 Al Qaeda suspects, including two North Africans and a Saudi, in Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, and the nearby village of Mudia, local officials and tribal sources said.

Despite months of clashes, government troops have so far been unable to take back full control of Abyan's towns and cities.

malqadhi@thenational.ae