Saleh immunity: Yemenis protest against ‘legalization of crime’
SANAA - Thousands of Yemenis demonstrated on Thursday in several cities voicing their rejection of a Gulf Arab deal to grant President Ali Abdullah Saleh immunity from prosecution, witnesses said.
In the capital Sanaa, protesters marched from Change Square, the focal point of almost a year of anti-Saleh demonstrations, through Al-Siteen Street, a correspondent reported.
Other protests were held across the country rejecting the immunity law for Saleh and his aides, drafted on Sunday by the transitional government that was formed after Saleh signed a Gulf plan easing him out of office by the end of February.
Protesters want those accused of killing demonstrators to be brought to justice.
The parliament is yet to convene to ratify the law.
In November, Saleh signed the deal brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) aimed at ending the political crisis in the impoverished country.
Under the deal, he handed authority to Vice President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, and the opposition formed a national unity government.
Saleh serves now as an honorary president until polls are held in February to elect Hadi as his successor.
A bloody crackdown on anti-Saleh demonstrations that erupted in January 2011 has claimed hundreds of lives.
Rights groups have slammed the immunity law, while UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said anyone who had committed abuses during the mass protests in Yemen must not be allowed to evade justice.
Pillay urged decision-makers in Yemen to respect the prohibition in international law against amnesties for gross human rights violations.
But the United States on Monday defended the draft amnesty law, saying that the Gulf-brokered deal contained a provision for an amnesty that had to be implemented by Hadi and the opposition.