Thousands of anti-government protesters held their ground Sunday in the Yemeni capital’s Change Square despite the president’s acceptance of an Arab proposal to leave office under certain conditions after 32 years in power.
More than two months of protests pressing for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to immediately step down have left him clinging to power and brought down intense international pressure for him to leave office. A bloc of Gulf nations has been trying to broker an end to the crisis, fearing the potential impact of more instability in the fragile country, which is home to al-Qaida’s most active branch.
Saleh agreed Saturday to the proposal for him to hand power to his vice president within 30 days of a deal being signed in exchange for immunity from prosecution for him and his sons.
A coalition of seven opposition political parties also agreed to the proposal with several reservations. But they do not control the street, where key figures among a diverse range of other government opponents rejected the proposal and said they doubted Saleh had any intention to leave.
Thousands of protesters held onto their camp in Change Square in the capital, Sanaa, where they are ringed by military units that defected to join and protect them. Men in desert camouflage military uniforms mixed with the crowds, pumping their arms into the air and flashing victory signs.