November 27, 2011
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has pardoned those who "committed errors during the crisis" that has rocked the country since January and killed hundreds of people, state television reported Sunday.
The announcement immediately drew the ire of opposition groups who say Saleh can no longer take such decisions having transferred his powers to his deputy under a Gulf deal to step down in return for immunity from prosecution.
"The President of the republic has decreed a general amnesty for all those who have committed errors during the crisis," said a statement flashed on state television.
The reported pardon came as tensions remain high in Yemen, where Saleh returned overnight from Riyadh, where he signed the Gulf-brokered deal to step aside.
"This is in violation of the Gulf initiative by which the president delegated his powers to the vice-president," opposition spokeswoman Hurriya Mashhud told AFP.
"He no longer has the right, nor the prerogative or the capacity to take such decisions," she added.
The Gulf-brokered deal signed on Wednesday stipulates that Saleh -- who has been in power for more than three decades but faced 10 months of massive anti-regime protests -- must leave power within 90 days.
Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, to whom Saleh transferred power under the Gulf deal, announced on Saturday that a new presidential election will take place on February 21 -- one year ahead of schedule.
Meanwhile the state broadcaster said that the amnesty decided by Saleh "does not include those involved in crime and in the attack against the mosque at the presidential palace compound."
Suspects who are "members of [political] parties, groups or individuals will be brought to trial," the report added.
Saleh was wounded in the June 3 bomb attack and had to seek treatment in neighboring Saudi Arabia.