Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, after weeks of resisting calls for his resignation, says he will quit if guaranteed immunity, a diplomat said Saturday.
Muhammad al-Basha, a spokesman for the country's embassy in Washington, said the president has agreed to a plan put forward by the Gulf Cooperation Council, The Washington Post reported. Saleh would hand over leadership to Vice President Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi in 30 days and, a week later, a transitional government would take over to prepare for elections in two months.
Leaders of the opposition, a loose coalition of six parties, said they have accepted the plan in principal but were still working out the details. A spokesman, Mohammad Qahtan, said one major sticking point is that the transitional government would be selected while Saleh is still president.
Ideally, we would like the interim government to be formed after Saleh leaves power, he said.
Saleh has ruled Yemen for 32 years. The national news agency, Saba, said he decided to leave office to prevent civil war.
White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement Saturday saying the United States supports a peaceful transfer of power in Yemen that is responsive to the aspirations of the Yemeni people.
We applaud the announcements by the Yemeni Government and the opposition that they have accepted the GCC-brokered agreement to resolve the political crisis in a peaceful and orderly manner, the statement said. We encourage all parties to move swiftly to implement the terms of the agreement so that the Yemeni people can soon realize the security, unity, and prosperity that they have so courageously sought and so richly deserve.
However, many young protesters in Yeman said they were unhappy with the plan.
The GCC plan is a joke, said Adel al-Sarabi, a key organizer in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital. Not one person will accept that Saleh will be granted immunity. He's killed us. He's killed hundreds of us. He must pay for his crimes.