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UN envoy in Yemen says compromise possible

(AFP) / 15 November 2011

SANAA — UN envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, said Tuesday that a compromise is possible between the regime and the opposition despite outstanding issues between both sides after months of bitter conflict.

“If there is political will, a compromise is possible” between Yemeni rivals, said Benomar who returned to Sanaa on November 10 to resume mediation between the impoverished country’s government and the opposition.

“There is an agreement on the outlines of a settlement, but there are still outstanding issues that need to be resolved,” said Benomar.

The UN backs a Gulf plan under which Saleh would hand power to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and members of his family.

Saleh has welcomed but has yet to sign off on the Gulf plan which is aimed at resolving the country’s 10-month-long crisis.

“A lot has been achieved. There is an agreement on the organisation and the management of the transition period,” Benomar said. “But differences remain over the beginning of the transition — mainly one the powers of the vice president and the status of president Saleh.”

On Monday Saleh told French broadcaster France 24 that he has “never refused to sign it” but wanted to “read it and work on a mechanism” to implement it.

Saleh, who has been clinging to power for 33 years, said “sure, sure,” when asked if he intends on stepping down.

“When the Gulf initiative is agreed upon and signed and when a time frame is set for its implementation, and elections take place, the president will leave,” Saleh told France 24, adding the whole process would take about 90 days.

“He who holds on to power is crazy,” he said.

Several hundred people have been killed since protests against the president that erupted in January degenerated into battles between rival troops backed by tribesmen from both sides.

The longtime president has come under domestic and global pressure to step down in line with a UN-approved roadmap which calls on him to hand over power to Hadi, who would then lead a two-year-long transitional period.

 
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