France slams Yemen's Saleh for refusal to sign peace deal

Reuters , Monday 23 May 2011

France issues strong statement after Yemen’s President Saleh backs out of the third transition agreement brokered by the GCC

France on Monday accused Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh of being irresponsible by refusing to sign a power transition agreement that would see him step down.

Saleh was due to sign the agreement brokered by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council on Sunday, but backed out at the last minute, the third time he has done so since protesters took to the streets in February to demand his resignation.

Under the deal, Saleh would have agreed to leave office within 30 days, rather than in 2013 when his presidential term ends. "This new turnaround is irresponsible and unacceptable," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement. "We once again urge the Yemeni president to sign this agreement without further delay, as it is the only viable way to resolve the crisis," it said.

Saleh has remained defiant in the face of months of popular unrest, which has put the Arab world's poorest country on the brink of economic meltdown.

His regime has drawn international condemnation for its use of force against peaceful protesters, which has left around 170 dead since the start of the uprising.

"If President Saleh continues to refuse to respect his commitments, France is ready to deal with the consequences, along with the European Union and its European partners," the Foreign Ministry said.

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