Yemen opposition to form caretaker govt

SANAA — A Yemeni opposition leader was called on to form a caretaker government on Sunday after President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced a pardon to those who “committed errors during the crisis.”

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 28 Nov 2011, 9:36 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:45 AM

The announcement that Yemen opposition chief Mohammed Basindawa, a former member of Saleh’s ruling party, would form a unity cabinet set to rule until early elections in February, was the clearest sign yet that Saleh had accepted a deal to cede power he agreed in Riyadh last week.

“Mohammed Salem Basindawa was charged to form a national reconciliation government,” the decree said, which according to state-run Saba news agency was issued by Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, to whom Saleh transferred power in accordance with the Gulf-brokered deal signed on Wednesday.

Earlier, Saleh, who had showed signs this week that his hands still gripped the wheel of power, pardoned those who “committed errors during the crisis” that has rocked the country since January and killed hundreds of people.

“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.

But the announcement immediately drew the ire of opposition groups who said Saleh could no longer take such decisions, having transferred his powers to his deputy under the deal to step down in return for immunity from prosecution.

The reported pardon came as tensions remained high in Yemen, where Saleh returned overnight from Riyadh.

“This is in violation of the Gulf initiative by which the president delegated his powers to the vice-president,” opposition spokeswoman Hurriya Mashhud said.

“He no longer has the right, nor the prerogative or the capacity to take such decisions,” she added.

The state broadcaster said that the amnesty decided on 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 neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

State-run Saba news agency later clarified that the sweeping pardon was made at a meeting of the ruling party devoted to preparing the ground for the implementation of the Gulf deal.

At the congress Saleh assured that the agreement “scored a victory for the people” and would be put into effect without “equivocation.”

Basindawa, a former member of Saleh’s ruling party, had been picked on Friday by the opposition to head an eventual unity government, in accordance with the deal signed in Riyadh.

Born in Aden, the capital of former South Yemen, Basindawa quit Saleh’s General People’s Congress a decade ago, becoming an opponent but without joining a party.

The former foreign minister now has two weeks to form a unity government in which Saleh loyalists and opposition figures are to share key posts until February, when Saleh is due to leave power and early elections are held.

Saleh, 69, has ruled Yemen for 33 years and signed a deal mediated by Gulf Cooperation Council states in which he agreed to step down in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and his family.

Activists, who have spearheaded 10 months of protests against Saleh’s rule, remain furious that the agreement signed with the parliamentary opposition offers Saleh a way out from being pursued legally.

A bloody crackdown on anti-Saleh demonstrations across Yemen since January has left hundreds of people dead.

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