- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s opposition parties said Tuesday they soon will sign a deal mediated by neighboring Gulf countries for the president to step down, possibly defusing the months of deadly government protests across this impoverished country.

Mohammed Salem Bassindwa, head of opposition’s national dialogue council, told the Associated Press he expected soon to sign the initiative by the Gulf Cooperation Council, an organization of six neighboring states.

“We have approved the Gulf Arab initiative, and the signing of the agreement will take place in the next 24 hours,” he said.

On Saturday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to the deal for him to transfer power to his vice president within 30 days of a deal being signed in exchange for immunity from prosecution for him and his sons.

The deal has caused a serious split in the ranks of the opposition parties and the youth that have been demonstrating and occupying city squares across the country for months. They accuse it of betraying their central demand of trying Mr. Saleh.

In the country’s second largest city, Taiz, a demonstrator was killed when security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of protesters, activist Nouh al-Wafi told the AP.

The police and presidential guard, who are controlled directly by the president’s eldest son, fired bullets and tear gas at the demonstrators, who called on Mr. Saleh to step down and condemned the GCC proposal.

More than 130 people have been killed by security forces and Saleh supporters since the unrest erupted in early February. At least 40 were killed in a single attack on March 18 by rooftop snipers overlooking protesters in Sanaa, the capital.

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