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Yemens Leader, Saleh To Step Aside: Deal Has Been Signed In Saudi Arabia
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Yemens Leader, Saleh to Step Aside: Deal Has Been Signed In Saudi Arabia

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has finally agreed to a change in power for his troubled nation, ending his thirty three years of rule there. Saleh had agreed to a step down several times in the past, only to change his mind at the last minute. This marks the fourth of the Arab countries who have had a leadership change in this year alone, starting in what has been deemed the Arab Spring.

This deal, worked out by the Gulf Cooperation Council was signed by Saleh and his opposition representatives in Saudi Arabia. Saleh is deciding where he will go, possibly extending his stay in Saudi Arabia once again. United Nation Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon reports that Saleh personally informed him that he would be heading to the US to pursue further medical treatment in New York. Saleh was injured in an explosion near the presidential palace and remained in Saudi Arabia for treatment from those injuries for nearly three months before returning to Yemen. The United Nations had tried to negotiate a political power transfer while Saleh was recovering so that he did not have to return to Yemen at all. That proposal fell through at the last moment.

This latest deal opens up a number of questions and allows Saleh to remain president of Yemen in title only for the next three months. All of his executive powers however will be ceded to the Vice President until elections can be set up and established. Questions about how the protesters, who have been turning increasingly violent in recent weeks will handle the news are also being raised. In the agreement, Saleh has been granted immunity from prosecution. The deal had the backing of both the United States and the European Union. Several leaders have tried to broker deals to remove Saleh from power in the past.

Saleh was reluctant to sign the deal but realized that there was no way to avoid doing so. Whether he left willingly or was forced out, his rule had come to an end. He made a statement before leaving Yemen for that document signing, saying that he hoped that the transfer of power and the subsequent elections could be both peaceful and democratic for the nation but warned that it would be decades before Yemen could be considered rebuilt from all of the recent destruction that has occurred there. Saleh's supporters and the opposition clashed as the two sides were getting ready to head to Saudi Arabia.


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