Yemen opposition rejects Gulf plan, Saleh accepts

Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:45pm GMT

By Mohamed Sudam and Mohammed Ghobari

SANAA (Reuters) - Yemen's opposition rejected on Monday a Gulf Arab initiative for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down, because it appeared to offer him immunity from prosecution, while Saleh himself welcomed the plan.

Gulf Arab foreign ministers meeting in Riyadh late on Sunday said publicly for the first time that the framework of their mediation effort involved Saleh standing down, though it did not say when that would occur.

The ministers called for a meeting of parties to the Yemeni conflict in Saudi Arabia but set no date.

"Who would be a fool to offer guarantees to a regime that kills peaceful protesters? Our principal demand is that Saleh leaves first," opposition spokesman Mohammed al-Sabry said.

Diplomatic sources say Saleh has dragged his heels for weeks over U.S. attempts to get him to agree to step down and end protests crippling the country since early February, manoeuvring to win guarantees that he and his sons do not face prosecution.

With more than 100 protesters killed in clashes with security forces, activists have said they want to see legal action against Saleh and his sons, who occupy key security and political posts.

Tens of thousands filled the streets of Sanaa, Taiz, Hudaida, Ibb and the southeastern province of Hadramaut on Monday to protest against the Gulf plan, witnesses said.

General Ali Mohsen, a kinsman of Saleh whose units are protecting protesters in Sanaa, said on Monday he welcomed the details of the GCC plan announced in Riyadh.   Continued...

<p>Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani speaks with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa (L-R) at Riyadh airport, before a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting April 10, 2011. REUTERS/Fahad Shadeed</p>
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