President Saleh came under renewed pressure on Friday to accept the Yemen "transition" plan proposed by the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The US and several EU countries have now declared their backing for the plan. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Friday:
"We call on the parties to sign and implement the terms of the agreement now to ensure an orderly, peaceful transition of power.
"This transition must begin immediately in order for the Yemeni people to realise their aspirations for a brighter and more prosperous future."
Saleh had been expected to sign the agreement – which requires his resignation – at the end of April but he prevaricated at the last minute. Given the additional western pressure now, the withdrawalof Qatar from the mediation process (whose involvement Saleh had been objecting to) and reports of a rapidly worsening economic situation inside Yemen, he may be finally induced to sign.
The "transition" plan itself leaves a lot to be desired (see previousblog post) and provides considerable scope for Saleh to further delay his departure.
Controversially, the plan also includes granting Saleh immunity from prosecution. On Thursday, Human Right Watch issued
another statement objecting to immunity "in light of repeated, lethal attacks by his security forces on peaceful protesters".
Posted by Brian Whitaker, 14 May 2011