|Tens of thousands of protesters chant slogans during a demonstration calling for the ouster of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, following Muslim Friday prayers in Sanaa on Friday.|
April 23, 2011
Yemen's president has agreed to a proposal by Gulf Arab mediators to step down within 30 days and hand power to his deputy in exchange for immunity from prosecution, a major about-face for the autocratic leader who has ruled for 32 years.
The protest movement demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh's immediate departure reportedly said Saturday that it also accepted the latest draft of the deal but with reservations.
A day earlier, protesters staged the largest of two months of demonstrations, filling a five-lane boulevard across the capital with a sea of hundreds of thousands of people. A deadly crackdown by government forces and Saleh supporters has killed more than 130 people and prompted key allies to abandon the president and join the protesters.
The opposition movement, fed up with poverty and corruption under Saleh, took inspiration from the toppling of leaders in Tunisia and Egypt.
The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes powerful Saudi Arabia, has been seeking to broker an end to the crisis in the fragile and impoverished nation on the southern edge of the Arabian peninsula.
The White House issued a statement applauding the deal and urging all "parties to move swiftly to implement the terms of the agreement so that the Yemeni people can soon realize the security, unity, and prosperity that they have so courageously sought and so richly deserve."
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