Middle East News
LEAD: UN envoy in Yemen for deal review amid protests
Jan 12, 2012, 11:40 GMT
Sana'a - A United Nations envoy arrived in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, on Thursday to review the implementation of a power transfer agreement amid mass protests against a part of the deal that grants immunity from prosecution to outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Jamal Benomar is to hold talks with government and opposition officials on the implementation of the UN-sponsored deal signed last November with support from the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council reported the state news agency SABA.
The talks come ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Yemen due on January 25.
Benomar said he would report to the council on the implementation of the deal.
'There is progress in the political process (in Yemen), but there are still major obstacles and challenges,' he told SABA.
The deal grants Saleh immunity in return for his relinquishing power and setting early presidential election set for February 21.
Thousands of Yemenis Thursday took to the streets in Sana'a and the southern city of Taiz, demanding Saleh and his aides be put on trial for allegedly ordering a deadly crackdown on anti-government demonstrations since the protests began last year.
The protests were the latest in a series of demonstrations against granting immunity to Saleh from prosecution. On Wednesday, Yemen's parliament postponed until January 14 a debate on a draft law on Saleh's immunity.
Meanwhile, a security committee has given rival forces two days to remove military barricades and gunmen from Sana'a as part of an effort to re-establish security in Yemen, reported SABA Thursday.
'The committee will check, starting from Saturday, the situation in all streets, public and private buildings and schools,' the agency reported, quoting General Ali Saeed, the committee's spokesman.
He added that the committee would not 'hesitate' about identifying the violators. However, he did not say if and how offenders would be punished.
Sana'a has been the scene of violent clashes between opponents of and forces loyal to Saleh in the past 10 months.
The committee has been created under the deal on power transfer.
Yemen, an impoverished Arabian Peninsula country, has been gripped since last February by protests against Saleh's 33-year rule.