|Yemen’s Saleh decrees ‘general amnesty’|
Contentious pardon comes as fighting between Shia Houthis and Sunni Salafis reportedly grips northern Saada province.
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2011
Via Al Jazeera original article HERE
Ali Abdullah Saleh has pardoned Yemenis who “committed errors during the crisis” that has rocked the country since January and killed hundreds of people, according to state television.
The announcement on Sunday immediately angered groups who say Saleh can no longer take such decisions, having transferred his presidential powers to his deputy under a Gulf Co-operation Council deal to step down in return for immunity from prosecution.
The deal signed, on Wednesday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, stipulates that Saleh – who has been in power for more than three decades but faced 10 months of massive anti-government protests – must leave power within 90 days.
“The president of the republic has decreed a general amnesty for all those who have committed errors during the crisis,” a statement flashed on state television said.
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The reported pardon came as tensions remain high in Yemen, where Saleh returned overnight from Riyadh. Saleh was wounded in the June 3 bomb attack and had to seek treatment in Saudi Arabia.
“This is in violation of the Gulf initiative by which the president delegated his powers to the vice-president,” Hurriya Mashhud, a spokesperson for the opposition, told the AFP news agency.
“He no longer has the right, nor the prerogative or the capacity to take such decisions,” she said.
The state broadcaster said that the amnesty decided by Saleh “does not include those involved in crime and in the attack against the mosque at the presidential palace compound”.
Suspects who are “members of [political] parties, groups or individuals will be brought to trial,” the report said.
If the agreement goes according to plan, Saleh will become the fourth Arab ruler brought down by mass demonstrations that have reshaped the political landscape of the Middle East.
This followed a decision on Friday by opposition parties to nominate Mohammed Salem Basindwa, the head of an alliance that led months of protests against Saleh, to form a new government.
“A presidential decree issued today … mandated … Basindwa to form a government of national unity,” Saba said.
Basindwa, a foreign minister from 1993 to 1994, is to form the new government under the deal signed in Riyadh.