Bloomberg News

Yemen Grants Saleh Immunity as Arab League Seeks Syrian Peace

January 08, 2012

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Yemen’s unity government approved a draft law to grant its outgoing president immunity from prosecution as the Arab League urged the Syrian government to end violence against civilian demonstrators.

The draft law, which must also be approved by Yemen’s parliament, says Ali Abdullah Saleh and anyone who worked with him in the civil service, security and military is granted immunity from prosecution for acts committed before the law takes effect, the state-run Saba news agency reported.

A new Yemeni government was sworn in last month after Saleh signed an agreement to relinquish presidential powers in return for immunity from prosecution.

Thousands of demonstrators in the Yemeni capital Sanaa protested the immunity deal today. They demanded that Saleh and his relatives face trial for killing more than 1,000 people since the uprising demanding his ouster began a year ago.

The Arab League called again on the Syrian government and armed groups to cease violence against civilians, withdraw troops from urban areas and release political prisoners.

“The Syrian government is urged to immediately and fully abide by its vows to execute the approved protocol in a way that would guarantee security to Syrian civilians and does not obstruct peaceful protests, in order for the delegation’s mission to succeed,” the Cairo-based organization said today in a statement handed to reporters in the Egyptian capital.

Arab League Observers

The League’s observers will continue their mission in Syria as long as the government abides by the agreement, the organization said. Arab League leader Nabil el-Arabi said today he expects to receive a full report from monitors on Jan. 19.

“On the lights of the report to be presented on Jan. 19, a decision will be made, after the committee meets, followed by a ministerial meeting,” Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Bin Jaber al Thani said in a press conference in Cairo. There is “no agreement to send foreigners as part of the Arab League monitors,” he said.

Syrian anti-government fighters killed 11 members of President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces in predawn clashes in Daraa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e- mailed statement today. The fighting in the southern governorate of Daraa, where the 10-month uprising against Assad began, also injured 20, the group said.

--With assistance from Dahlia Kholaif in Kuwait and Zaid Sabah Abd Alhamid and Brian Wingfield in Washington. Editors: Ann Hughey, Maura Reynolds.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mohammed Hatem in Dubai at mhatem1@bloomberg.net; Abdel Latif Wahba in Cairo at alatifwahba@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ann Hughey at ahughey@bloomberg.net


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