SANAA (Reuters) – Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Wednesday he would sign a Gulf peace deal calling for a transfer of power only if the United States, Europe and Gulf Arab states gave him unspecified guarantees.
Violence in Yemen, where thousands have been demonstrating for months demanding that Saleh end his 33 years in power, has spiked since he returned from Saudi Arabia in September after treatment for injuries sustained in an assassination attempt.
Saleh already has backed down three times from signing the Gulf initiative, and says he will only hand over power to “safe hands.”
“Now that the president has returned, they say there is no need for the vice president to sign. Fine, I am ready to sign,” Saleh told a meeting of party leaders in the capital Sanaabroadcast on state television.
“But provide guarantees to implement this initiative. We want Gulf guarantees, first, second, European guarantees and third American guarantees,” he added.
The Gulf initiative provides for him to hand over power to his deputy to prepare for elections.
“These three guarantees must accompany the Gulf initiative,” Saleh said.
Saleh’s comments came after the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Councilcirculated a draft resolution to the full 15-nation body urging the swift signing and implementation of an agreement “on the basis of” the Gulf Arab plan, under which Saleh would be immune from prosecution.
Western Security Council diplomats denied that the draft resolution was an endorsement of the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative, although one envoy said the GCC deal is “the only game in town.”
The draft resolution, obtained by Reuters, would have the Security Council say it “stresses that all those responsible for violence, human rights violations and abuses should be held accountable.” It did not give any details on how accountability would be achieved.
Council diplomats said privately that they hoped the resolution would be voted on and approved next week.