West insists president quits in exchange for immunity

National Yemen

American Ambassador meets with opposition military leaders

The United States and Britain are pressingĀ Saudi Arabia to persuade the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to formally stand down after flying to Riyadh for treatment for injuries that were sustained in shelling in Sana’a on Friday.

Diplomats said that Washington and London were insisting that Saleh now be urged to implement a deal under which he would relinquish power in exchange for immunity from prosecution and financial guarantees about his future.

Pro-democracy protestors inĀ Yemen were celebrating his departure after 33 years in power, but the Arab world’s poorest country still faces turmoil as well as immediate concerns over whether a truce will hold if Saleh tries to return and his relatives and supporters fight back.

The risks ahead were underlined by clashes in the southern city of Taiz, which left at least two dead and four injured. Shelling was also reported in Sana’a.

Saleh was described as recovering following emergency medical treatment in a Riyadh military; he was injured by shrapnel when his palace compound was attacked by tribal rivals.

Yemen’s ruling party, the General People’s Congress, insisted he would be back, but diplomats and analysts expressed doubt, suggesting that Saudi patience with an always fractious and often manipulative neighbour was exhausted.