Yemeni Dictator Agrees to Step Down
First it was Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Then came Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Now you can add Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh to the growing list of Middle East dictators toppled by the power of popular protest.
According to the BBC, the 32-year reign of Saleh will soon come to an end. Saleh has agreed to step down under a 30-day transition plan drawn up by Gulf Arab states. Under the plan, Saleh will hand over power to his vice-president 30 days after a pact is signed with the opposition that will grant him immunity from prosecution.
The Yemeni opposition has repeatedly insisted that it will not accept immunity for Saleh and his family. At least 120 Yemenis have died protesting against the government over the last two months; much, if not all, of that blood is on Saleh’s hands.
Opposition leader Yassin Noman said he welcomed Saleh’s announcement and that he would not participate in a proposed national unity government. Opposition members cautioned that Saleh, a wily political animal, may try to exploit loopholes in order to remain in power.
Under the agreement, Saleh must hand power to Vice President Abdu Rabu Manur Hadi. Saleh will appoint an opposition leader to head an interim government, which will pave the way for presidential elections two months later.
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