Embattled Yemen president offered 'smooth exit'

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Sanaa, Mar 3: Yemen's opposition and clerics have offered President Ali Abdullah Saleh a smooth exit from power this year, but protesters staged new demonstrations on Thursday, Mar 4 demand his immediate ouster.

The proposal calls for a "peaceful transition of power" from Saleh, insists two-week-old demonstrations against his regime will go on, and demands a probe into a deadly crackdown on the protests.

"We''ve agreed on a settlement proposal including a roadmap for the president's departure before the end of this year," said opposition parliamentary spokesman Mohammed al-Sabri.

The five-point plan calls for Saleh to step down by the end of 2011, according to Sabri, was yet to receive a response from the veteran leader.

Once Saleh replied, it would ultimately be up to Yemen's people to "decide whether to accept or reject this proposal," said the Common Forum, an alliance of parliamentary opposition.

Saleh''s three decades of autocratic rule has been rocked by a wave of protests in which at least 19 people have been killed since Feb 16, according to an AFP toll based on reports and witnesses.

But the embattled 68-year-old has doggedly rejected calls to resign.

Today''s offer calls on Saleh to "highlight a number of steps by which power will be passed on... during a period that does not exceed the end of this year."

It calls for an "investigation on the crimes committed across Yemen... bringing the killers and those behind them to justice... (and) compensating the families' of the victims.

But despite the announcement, thousands of protesters staged a march today in the capital, vowing to intensify their protests until Saleh departs.

"Revolution, revolution, until victory, or march towards the palace," read their banners, referring to the presidential palace.

AFP

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