Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yemen’s Saleh, Opposition May Be Close to Accord, Diplomat Says

September 28, 2011

By Donna Abu-Nasr

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Yemen’s government and opposition are making progress in talks on a power transfer to end escalating violence, and could resolve outstanding disagreements within a week, a senior Western diplomat said.

The two sides have advanced beyond a proposal put forward by Gulf Arab nations in April for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to hand over power, adding detail to areas that had been left vague, and are now holding direct talks rather than negotiations mediated by third parties, the diplomat said in an interview yesterday, on condition of anonymity.

Mohammed al-Mutawakkil, a member of the main opposition coalition, the Joint Meeting Parties, said in an interview from Sana’a today he is “optimistic” that a solution is near. The two sides have a practical blueprint for how to proceed, the Western diplomat said.

Violence in Yemen has escalated in the past two weeks, leaving more than 100 people dead, as fighters from tribes that support the opposition clashed with government troops. Saleh returned to the country on Sept. 24 following more than three months of recuperation in Saudi Arabia after he was injured in an attack on his compound. The president has called for revival of the Gulf Cooperation Council peace proposals, as protests demanding Saleh’s immediate ouster continue daily in the capital, Sana’a, and other cities.

Plane Shot Down

Saleh has three times come to the brink of signing the Gulf Cooperation Accord. He pulled back from signing it on May 22, when the opposition refused to attend a signing ceremony at his palace. Saleh has since given Vice President Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi the power to sign the agreement on his behalf.

Yemen’s Defense Ministry said on its website today that a military aircraft crashed after it was attacked while on a routine mission in Arhab in the north of Sana’a. The ministry said Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a former military commander who defected to join the protesters, and other opposition leaders were behind the attack.

The opposition Al-Sahwa website said the plane was shot down by tribal fighters who have been battling Saleh’s troops for several months.

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