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Pressure builds on Yemeni president

Yusur Al-Bahrani

November 20, 2011

The UN Security Council has condemned violence in Yemen and supported a plan for the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step down in exchange for immunity.

The adopted resolution came in response to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative that required Saleh to hand authority to his deputy. The deal adopted by the United States, the GCC and Europe shields Saleh and key members in the Yemeni government from investigation or trial for human rights violations. The UN resolution calls for an end to violence against protesters and the implementation of the GCC deal.

Saleh welcomed the UN resolution, and said that he would be ready to transfer power to “safe hands” after his 33 years of autocratic rule. He expressed his readiness to have dialogue with the opposition Joint Meeting Parties over the future of Yemen after the implementation of the resolution. Just days before the resolution, more than a dozen died in several cities in Yemen, including a child.

On the other hand, UN officials warned that Yemen would be at a risk of falling into a humanitarian crisis if violence escalates. The situation is likely to worsen the shortage of food in several cities and villages. The Yemeni government signed a ceasefire with a dissident general on October 25. However, explosions and blasts could still be heard in the capital Sana’a and several other cities.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured since the beginning of pro-democracy protests in Yemen. The Yemeni government has long been responsible for human rights violations including executions, torture and enforced disappearances.

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