Anti-regime protesters carry a large Yemeni flag during a rally to demand the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz on April 22, 2011
Source: Press TV
Yemen's ruling General People's Congress (GPC) has finally accepted a proposal by mediators from Arab states of the Persian Gulf that calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.
"The GPC and its allies have accepted the [P]GCC initiative in its entirety," AFP quoted Soltan al-Barakani, the party's deputy secretary general and the head of its parliamentary bloc, as saying on Saturday.
The (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) has called on Saleh to leave office and hand over power to his vice president within 30 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
State TV reported that Yemen's foreign minister informed the mediators that the government had accepted the proposal on Saturday.
The decision is a major U-turn by the Saleh regime, which has ruled the impoverished Arab state for 32 years.
The Yemeni opposition, which has been calling for Saleh to step down immediately, said on Saturday that they also accepted the latest draft of the Arab deal, but with reservations.
On Saturday, there were massive demonstrations and a general strike in Yemen, in response to a call by the opposition to increase the pressure on Saleh to step down.
Since late January, hundreds of thousands of people have turned out for regular demonstrations in Yemen's biggest cities, calling for corruption and unemployment to be tackled and demanding the president's departure.
According to local sources, at least 300 protesters have been killed and many others have been injured during clashes with riot police and forces loyal to the Yemeni president armed with batons, knives, and clubs.
On Friday, large crowds of people took to the streets for what they called “Last Chance Friday” demonstrations to demand that Saleh be brought to justice.