Yemen President Signs Deal Ceding Power

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Marco Werman: Yemen is another country that's been swept by waves of Arab Spring unrest. Protestors there have been demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh for 9 months. Saleh responded with a crackdown that's left hundreds dead, but today Saleh appears to have caved. The man who has ruled Yemen for 33 years flew to Saudi Arabia to sign a deal that transfers power to his Vice-President. The deal also grants Saleh immunity from prosecution. Reaction in Yemen is mixed. Ali Al-Mujahed is a journalist with the independent Yemen Post. He says Saleh's about face was somewhat unexpected today.

Ali Al-Mujahed: It clearly indicates that there was very strong pressure put on him in order to do the signing of the agreement because, until the last moment, there was news that the President was not willing to sign. Also, the people who are on the streets, they have been calling for so long and they're also calling today to make it very clear that they're against this agreement because it gives President Saleh a guarantee for him and for whoever has worked under his regime, a guarantee for no prosecution whatsoever.

Werman: Still, I mean, as you say, these protestors have been out in the streets for months asking for President Saleh to resign. Now he's handed power off to his Vice-President. What would the Yemeni protestors say? That the Arab Spring was a success in Yemen?

Al-Mujahed: Well, they still believe as long as Saleh is not prosecuted that their goal is not met completely. But the same time, they are quite happy that they have reached to such stage, especially after being on the street for more than 9 months.

Werman: That was Ali Al-Mujahed, head of the international desk at the Yemen Post in Sana'a. He was speaking to us from Yemen's capital.