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Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh has agreed to step down from power, after 32 years of rule, in 30 days in a deal that would grant him and his close family immunity from prosecution, according to the Wall Street Journal. Saleh aide Tariq Shami told the paper's Margaret Coker and Hakim Almasmari, "President Saleh welcomed the proposal and has accepted it. Though President Saleh has constitutional rights to stay in power, he is willing to leave office willingly."

In the face of a popular uprising demanding he relinquish power, Saleh, who is in his 70s, had offered an ever-shrinking timeline for his leaving office, first offering to step down when his current term expires in 2013 before setting ever-nearer dates for his exit. Opponents continued to demand that he step down immediately and continued their protests in the face of government violence, while the Gulf Cooperation Council--led by neighboring Saudi Arabia--worked to mediate a solution to the crisis.

It is too soon to say whether opposition groups will accept granting immunity to Saleh and his powerful relatives. According to the Journal: "Mainstream opposition parties have said in principal that they agree to the terms, which would have President Saleh handing over power to the country's vice president within 30 days of the official signing of the deal. His son and nephews would retain control of their military and national security positions for 60 days to ensure continuity of counter-terrorism operations. The president's family would also receive immunity from prosecution."

In its report Al Jazeera is much more circumspect about whether Saleh's agreement to the GCC deal will lead to an end to the nation's standoff. It reports, "The Peaceful Youth Revolt, a group that has helped organise protests against Saleh's government, issued a statement rejecting the GCC initiative, saying 'it does not include Saleh's immediate ouster,' and 'provides safeguards to him, his family and aides who are all killers.'"


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