WASHINGTON — The United States called Wednesday on Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh to sign without delay a deal for him to quit, rejecting his call for international guarantees on a timetable.
The embattled leader said earlier Wednesday that he was willing to sign a deal brokered by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to quit after 33 years in office but wanted US and European guarantees on the timetable.
“We don’t believe any further guarantees are necessary,” US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
“We would just urge that President Saleh fulfill his pledge to sign the GCC agreement without further delay (and) arrange for presidential elections to be held before the end of the year within the framework of that agreement,” he said.
Violence has raged in recent days in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, with troops loyal to Saleh using deadly force against anti-regime protesters.
Saleh did not elaborate on the timetable he was seeking, but the GCC initiative calls for him to hand over to the vice president 30 days after the agreement is signed, with an election after 60 days.
A prime minister from the opposition would lead a national unity government and Saleh and his aides would be granted immunity from prosecution.