Power handover deal close: Yemeni vice president

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Yemen’s vice president said late Saturday the government and the opposition were close to finalising a deal aimed at easing President Ali Abdullah Saleh out of power, one day after 17 people died in violence in the city of Taiz.
An opposition leader dismissed the remarks and said the only way to end Yemen’s crisis was for Saleh to sign the deal or empower his deputy to do so. The state’s Saba news agency said Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi made his remarks during a meeting with visiting UN envoy Jamal Benomar and ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council in the capital Sanaa. “We all have a task represented in translating UN Security Council resolution 2014 into action on the ground, and this is a task the ruling party and the opposition must shoulder together,” Saba quoted Hadi as saying. Hadi told the diplomats that discussions with the opposition have covered nearly 85 percent of the Gulf deal, without going into further detail, Saba reported. Saleh has repeatedly backed down on signing the accord, first proposed in April to end months of protests against his rule that have destabilised Yemen and rattled Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter which shares a long and porous border with Yemen.
Yasin Numan, a leader of an opposition alliance leading anti-Saleh protests, said Benomar’s mission was to discuss signing the accord, and called for more pressure on Saleh to sign the Gulf initiative. “What does it mean to talk about a mechanism when the other side has not signed the initiative yet? They must sign it first and then we can talk about its implementat Meanwhile, eight militants linked to Al-Qaeda were killed in Yemen’s restive southern Abyan province in overnight clashes with government troops and armed tribesmen, a local government official said on Sunday.
At least two of the dead militants were of “African” origin.Government troops, backed by US drones, are at war with the Partisans of Sharia (Islamic law) in Abyan and Yemen’s eastern Marib province.The group is believed to be an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which is widely considered the global terror network’s most active and deadly branch.