Yemen's Saleh Says he Will Quit after Rivals Agree

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said on Monday he will quit for "sure" after the government agrees with the opposition on a mechanism for implementing a power transfer plan.

In an interview with the French broadcaster France24, Saleh, who has been clinging to power for 33 years, said "sure, sure," when asked if he intends on stepping down.

"When the Gulf initiative is agreed upon and signed and when a time frame is set for its implementation, and elections take place, the president will leave," Saleh said, adding the whole process would take about 90 days.

"He who holds on to power is crazy," Saleh said.

His remarks came as the U.N. envoy to Yemen, Jamal Benomar, called on Monday for a rapid transfer of power in the unrest-swept country, following talks with dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar.

"The time has come to speed up change in Yemen and begin a power transfer," Benomar told reporters.

The U.N. backs a Gulf plan under which Saleh would hand power over to his deputy, Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, in return for immunity from prosecution for himself and members of his family.

Saleh has welcomed but has yet to sign the Gulf plan.

On Monday he told France24 he has "never refused to sign it" but wanted to "read it and work on a mechanism" to implement it.

He also denied his government has cracked down on protesters demanding his ouster and said the Arab Spring that has seen many autocratic Arab leaders forced to quit was merely "Arab chaos."

Several hundred people have been killed since protests against the president that erupted in January degenerated into battles between rival troops backed by tribesmen from both sides.

Source: Agence France Presse

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