Yemen president 'offered departure with immunity'

AFP , Thursday 21 Apr 2011

A new deal will allow Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to avoid prosecution should he handover power and step down in 30 days

Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been offered the option of resigning after 30 days with a guarantee that he would not be prosecuted, a high-ranking opposition official said on Thursday.

Protesters have been calling for Saleh's departure since January, when demonstrations began in which more than 130 people have been killed.

Citing ongoing negotiations to resolve the crisis, Hassan Zayd, the secretary general of the Shiite Islamist Haq party, said that there is a plan for "the resignation of

President Saleh and the enactment of an amnesty law" that would offer assurances he would not be prosecuted after leaving power.

"This offer awaits the president's approval," said Zayd, a member of an opposition delegation that met on Sunday in Riyadh with Gulf Cooperation Council foreign ministers who are trying to mediate the Yemen crisis.

If he accepts the offer, Saleh would hand power to his vice president within 30 days and resign, Zayd said.

The vice president would then serve as acting president for two months, after which presidential elections would be held, said Zayd, adding that the United States, a close Saleh ally, had contributed to the plan.

Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years, said on Wednesday that he would "resist" calls to resign and abide by the constitution in any transfer of power, the official Saba news agency reported.

Haq is a member of the Common Forum parliamentary opposition grouping, which also includes the Islamist Al-Islah party, and the Yemen Socialist Party, which was the ruling party of south Yemen prior to its unification with the north in 1990.

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